Critical Issues Lecture Series, Featuring Lise Soskolne, March 9

Posted on March 06, 2017, 9:16 pm
3 mins


It’s time for the latest in the Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice lecture series at The Henry Art Gallery. Organized by UW’s School of Art + Art History + Design and sponsored by The Boeing Company, the seven free lectures cover a range of subjects. This Thursday, March 9, it’s (a lot) about the Benjamins.

New York-based activist organization  Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) was founded almost a decade ago to consider labor issues (and payment) between artists and institutions. Artist Lisa Soskolne has been with the group from the beginning, and is now its core organizer. Her background in nonprofit arts presenting and development at a variety of venues gives her knowledge of both sides: artist and institution.

How do we imagine a sustainable relationship between nonprofits and other groups that contract artists’ work, when they themselves are often underfunded? Is the artist doomed to always be shortchanged?

W.A.G.E. says “No.” We can do better, but artists need to know how to avoid being exploited. Meanwhile, Soskolne is also familiar with creating sustainable spaces for artists to create. From The Henry Art Gallery:

In 2007, [Soskolne] was hired to use artists to increase the property value of Industry City, a 6.5 million sq ft industrial complex on the South Brooklyn waterfront. There she founded and managed the arts component in its broader regeneration with the intention of establishing a new paradigm for industrial redevelopment that would not displace workers, artists, local residents or industry, but would instead build a sustainable community of working artists in a context that integrated cultural and industrial production.

In the wake of the Ghost Ship disaster in Oakland, CA, the actual physical perils that some artists face so that they can create have been brought to the fore. Meanwhile, the Republican administration has called for the end of the National Endowment for the Arts. If art is to become even more deprioritized at the federal level, then local communities need to discuss the future of the arts. The lecture with Soskolne will be a prime chance to think about how the arts are valued, how they bring value, and how artists can continue to make work safely and sustainably in this political and economic climate.

Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice: Lise Soskolne

When: Thursday, March 9, 2017, 7:00pm — 8:30pm

Where: The Henry Art Gallery, Main Auditorium (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St)

Reserve seats online. Free and open to the public.

Image via The Henry Art Gallery.

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.