What Role do Artists have in Society? (a brief interview)

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by 2nd Floor Gallery in Mechanicsburg about my work and process. Once of my favorite questions asked, what role (if any) do artists have in society. Here are my thoughts on the matter, fell free to comment with your own!

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2nd Floor Gallery invites you to get to know Annie Minicuci, an acrylic and water color painter, on Saturday, May 16 along with tons of other local artists at the “Gallery Saturday” Art Reception between 6 and 9pm. Check out our interview with Annie!

2F: How do you work?

AM: It is incredibly important to me to have some kind of connection to the image, object or place that I am interacting with. Most of the time my paintings come from my own photography; if not I borrow images from friends, family members and acquaintances.

2F: What role does the artist have in society?

AM: One of my favorite quotes comes from a piece of 1950’s McCarthy era propaganda. “Beware of artists. They mix well with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous.” All artists were suspect.

I believe that an artist can fill any and all roles in society. We are integral, yet often invisible to the movement, transformation and evolution of history, academia, politics, society, and revolution. We are the note takers, the recorders, the historians, the observers, the statement makers, and sometimes the catalysts.

Yet not all art requires such a serious undertone. My own art comes from a place of aesthetics and personal sentiment rather than social and political change, and yet this is no less important. I think one of my all-time favorite characters, Mr. Keating from The Dead Poet Society said it best, “And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

2F: What art do you most identify with?

AM: My strongest inspirations come from the work of Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Vincent Van Gogh.

2F: Professionally, what’s your goal?

AM: My goal is to create. If I can make even a modest living doing so, I will be the happiest girl in the world.

On Feeling Unsupported

My Dear friends,

Thank you for putting up with my dabbling commitment to  write and share learn with you all, but to those of you who keep following, keep checking back, and keep reading- THANK YOU. With all my heart, thank you.

As many of you know, I am a painter and photographer. With that comes many struggles- why did you paint that? Why is your art priced the way it is? Why don’t you just sell prints of everything? Why don’t you paint more of this or less of that? And the age old, couldn’t a 5 year old do that? They don’t see the hours of toil, the dozens of white washed “failed” canvases, or the years or schooling, research and practice. But once a piece is complete, it is accessible, easy to interact with (thanks to social media), and fairly convenient for friends and family to be visibly supportive of.

One of my closest friends is a writer. Now, I have told her on many occasions how envious I am of her skill set, her creative thinking, and her agile mind. But as writer, she has her own set of struggles, not the least of which is feeling like after all this time and effort, no one really cares. Who has time to sit down and read a whole novel, or her in case FIFTEEN brilliantly thought out novels, just to let your friend know that you believe in their work.

To all friends, fans, and family members of any creative- This knowledge, the knowledge that you believe in them, support them AND enjoyed the fruits of their labor… it is invaluable.

To all creatives-If you feel as if you are alone in this endeavor, I assure you that you are not. Here is an excerpt from my friends latest blog posting entitled, On Feeling Unsupported

“I think we all know that feeling, what it is to slave over something so laboriously and go from feeling so accomplished to being so rejected in such a brief amount of time. It’s not a feeling I relish, but I do think it’s part of the process.”

I encourage you all to keep writing, keep painting, keep playing, no matter what your passion, don’t let up. But also, don’t go it alone. Find another person, whether it be a friend or a peer and be their constant support. It doesn’t have to be in your own field or medium- in fact, I LOVE the things I learn when I am in mutual support with someone that I know very little about their particular artistic process. All throughout history, the evolution of art, writing, culture, society, politics… it was all fluid, co-mingled, and intertwined. You cannot see the movement and changing of one without the eventual or sometimes instant evolution of another. I truly believe that if you invest significant and genuine time into someone’s passion, you will see a return and then some on that effort. That mutual support will carry you further as an artist than you could ever make it alone.

 

Being an Etsy shop owner

Hi friends,

As many of you know, I am an Etsy shop owner. I started up my shop about a year and a half ago, thinking I could throw my products online and they would magically sell! Well, about 9 months to a year later, my listings had expired and I had not made a single sale. About 3 months ago, my husband lost his job and we had/have a very real need for another source of income. I was determined to re-launch my shop as a serious small business venture and it changed the way I approached everything.

Now, before I go any further, I do not claim to be some kind of business genius, and there is no such thing as a quick fix. That being said, after a year of making ZERO sales I seriously rethought my model, made some big changes (introducing a logo, using a crisp and consistent photography style, adding tons of new products), invested A LOT of time and a good chunk of money and in ONE MONTH I went from zero sales to 10.

Since that time, I have noticed a lot of people announcing the start up of their own Etsy shops. For all of you new shop owners out there looking for some answers, encouragement, and ideas I have decided to post some of the articles that I have found most helpful in my shop re-vamp. As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions! Like I said, I do not claim to be an expert, but I am happy to help share what I have learned these past few months.

Helpful articles:

http://www.lansdownelife.com/2014/08/14-tips-first-year-selling-etsy.html

https://blog.etsy.com/en/2015/5-keys-to-a-successful-craft-fair-application/

https://blog.etsy.com/en/2015/6-tips-for-perfecting-small-product-photography/

https://blog.etsy.com/en/2015/how-to-get-serious-about-your-etsy-shop/

https://blog.etsy.com/en/2015/five-common-etsy-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them/

Contact me here!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFoxandTheRaven13?ref=hdr_shop_menu

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fox-the-Raven-Studio-Annie-Minicuci-Local-Artist/779452115403654

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Mixing Mediums

Hello friends,

To all my fellow artists and entrepreneurs out there, lately I have been falling in love with a new creative outlet- soap making. But as a painter and photographer, I am having trouble marketing myself in this new endeavor. It seems so detached from my other niches and I am not sure how to include it in my already existing shops and websites. I don’t want to confuse or throw off any existing customers or followers, but I do not want to ignore a new opportunity either. Any tips on meshing this worlds?

Below are a few shots of my process and my attempt to blend both words….

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Thoughts on thoughts on thoughts

Hello friends!

It has been an absurd amount of time, and I apologize. Sometimes life has a way of pulling time right out from under my feet. I’ve been blessed with a streak of productivity lately. Some might say that “inspiration hit”…. in this case I would just say that pressure, deadlines, and financial need were exactly the kick in the but that I needed to get moving again. As I work, I think about how the physicality of painting, especially on a large scale (I am working on a mural for a local church at the moment), helps surge my brain into a peacefulness so rarely found in my day-to-day routine. Normally driving, cooking dinner, paper work at the office, and even watching tv or lying in bed are all activities which my brain overshadows with thoughts and worries; what groceries do I need? Did I vacuum the family room this week? Does the cat have enough litter? I should really call that friend I have been meaning to catch up with….

I have heard that keeping a journal is another good way to keep and organize those thoughts, So many great and notable historical figures have kept journals- shouldn’t I? Yet every time I go to write, I am underwhelmed by my sudden blank slate of a brain. This is the opposite of that clear peacefulness that lets me forget time and space as I paint. This is panic. My thoughts are gone. Nothing I can think of seems worth writing down.

Just this past week, a friend shared an interesting article with me called “What my Morning Journal Looks Like.” I thought it a great, pressure free and interesting perspective on keeping a journal. I’m hoping you all can relate.

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2015/01/15/morning-pages/

Foodie Fun and Foodie Fail

Hello friends,
It has been quite a while since I have written. I keep telling myself that I’ll post as soon as I finish a painting. Since June I have started 4 paintings and finished none of them…. That isn’t to say that I quit working on them, they are all a work in progress. Normally I am a one painting at a time kind of girls, but lately I have been easily distracted and have been finding it hard to follow through.

One thing that I have been doing ALMOST without fail is cooking/baking something new on Saturday mornings. I don’t know what it is about Saturday morning… maybe the hope for the weekend, maybe the fresh and interesting finds from my weekly Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market… but for the past few months, Saturday morning has been a continuous time for culinary inspiration.

So far Saturday mornings have graced my kitchen with tasty and blissful victories in the following endeavors; fried/fried & stuffed zucchini blossoms, roasted red bell, green bell, and hot & sweet peppers, gluten free/dairy free/processed sugar free chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, balsamic glazed pot roast with summer squash and carrots, and many other delicious adventures.

Today, like many other Saturdays, I embarked on another drool-worthy and time consuming adventure. Last Saturday’s market landed me with a sweet potato the size of both of my arms stacked together… so I decided to make several meals out of the beast. A delicious sausage, apple, and sweet potato casserole for the coming week, and a delicious rosemary sweet potato pancake breakfast topped with caramelized onions and candied bacon. YUM! Sweet and savory success!

Feeling good (and full) after a glorious morning/afternoon of kitchen therapy, I decided to start on a recipe that was requested by a good friend of mine for her bridal shower tomorrow morning. I had never made this particular delicacy before, but that has never stopped me, so with full confidence I dove right in!!! It turns out Turkish Delight is a tricky little weasel out to make your kitchen a mess and your sanity scrambled. If anyone has ever made it before, PLEASE cue me in on where I went wrong, I am DYING to know. I will post the recipe I followed- YES, I EVEN FOLLOWED A BLOODY RECIPE! Those who know me will understand how rare this is, I tend to just wing it in the kitchen. The color and flavor came out nice… but the texture is all wrong. What should be cute little pink 1″ x 1″ squares dusted in powdered sugar, instead is a tray full of pink, cracked blobs of sticky goo that refuse to keep their shape. HELP!!! Any fellow foodies out there have any advice?

http://alittlezaftig.com/?p=1772

Warmer Weather

Hello friends,

Summer is here, and with it memories of summer vacation, warm nights, and simpler times. This post is nothing more than a short and sweet introduction to one of my most recent pieces, “Hunterdon County Blues;” named after my childhood home in Hunterdon County, NJ and the many nights we spent on the back deck, watching the hot air balloons drift by.

Happy Summer everyone!

Annie

 

Hunterdon County Blues

 

A Month of Silence

Dear friends and readers,

It has been a slow and silent month for me. My productivity has been waning and I have decided to blame it on the humidity. But in all seriousness, it seems that I am going through a season of quiet restlessness. It is as if I am ready for a change, but none comes. I am not sure how I feel about the painting below. I only finished it today and usually allow myself a few days to process and to mull before I write on my work. But this painting, like my month (which is how long I dragged my feet to finish it), was slow, mellow, sometime tedious, and has not yet revealed its intent.

I’m praying for a storm.

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Swan Dive PII: Personal Growth

Sometimes it is hard to step back and look at yourself or your work and say, “Why, yes. I have grown here.” That is why, whether you are interested in selling your work or not, I encourage EVERYONE with some kind of skill, trade, or talent to showcase their work.

I have been feeling “stuck” in so many areas of my life recently; my art, my weight, my relationships, my finances. Most of time I go through life feeling as though I am climbing some kind of invisible wall- feeling certain that if I just climb a little higher, I might reach the top and tumble down into the greater space awaiting me on the other side. But even more often, I feel as though I’ve been climbing forever, and that the other side of the wall is just a lie that people tell so that they can keep on moving.

When you showcase your work on a regular basis- even just to friends or family- it becomes easier to spot the milestones. Now, the word milestone makes it sound as though it has to be BIG to be considered note worthy. That is NOT true. It simply has to stand out to you. For example, I recently placed a painting in a group show that I wasn’t 100% certain about. I was fearful of how it would be received and fearful of how it would reflect me as an artist. I almost didn’t show it! But low and behold- someone who had attended a solo show that I had last fall, just happened to come to the group show this spring. She encouraged me and told me how happy she was to see how much my work has matured in the last 7 months. This piece that I thought was a poor reflection of my style or purpose as an artist, she referred to as “finding my niche.” How crazy is that!?

So here is the lesson folks: Be tenacious. That wall may look like you’ll never reach the top, and maybe you won’t this week, or even this year. Meditate on the little wins. If you look, I’m sure there are more of them than you realized.  

 

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Swan Dive

Hello friends,

Remember how I told you I prefer to work from my own images/photography. Well, I don’t know about you, but sometime I go through seasons where I feel completely tapped out and used up. I just don’t feel those creative ideas flowing as freely, and every time I try to force inspiration onto myself it comes out like crap- just being honest here. It is in those days, or weeks, or months even that I take a deep breath and tell myself that it is OKAY to use other artists and photographers to inspire my work! There is a whole world of creative genius out there and I am depriving myself if I leave it untapped! The whole timeline of art history is a giant snowball of one artist’s contribution building off of another. Where would Rubens or Rembrandt have been with out the Tenebrist influences of Caravaggio? Where would Picasso have ended up without the friendship/competition of Braque? 

Anyways, what I am really trying to say here is that our culture is flooded with this overwhelming need to be unique or one of a kind! It is all about individualism- what can you offer that has never been done before? That is all well and good- but at the end of the day, if art is only ever about being different, solo, standing out, or the individual… then aren’t we missing the humanity of it? In addition to individualism, our culture is flooded with loneliness and a lack of intentionality and community. Do we think this is just a coincidence? Does this make for better art? or just different art?

No photo today, just feel free to offer up any thoughts or opinions.