New York City, aka “The Big City of Dreams” is another world with its memorable landmarks, music production, Broadway shows, film and television sets, prestigious galleries and more. Everybody dreams of living in the Big Apple. New York is a place where most creatives want to move, especially Brooklyn. Of course this whole narrative is changing as prices continue to rise. Everyone is looking for a decent space to create art at a low cost. As we all know, that has its draw backs. I pretty much live in East New York and it is changing so fast it’s alarming. The train used to be relatively empty with the exception of Black and Brown faces at my stop now everyone is getting off with me. I am staring at them like they made a mistake and they need to get back on the train and head towards Manhattan.
What this great city lacks is space…space to create. 9 chances out of 10, you live in a shoebox. With a roommate or 5. Gentrification has made prices shoot up higher than sky high. So if you’re an artist, like me, you need space to create. Getting a studio is out of the question unless you land a residency that includes studio space, some blessed arrangement with a building owner or you’re a part of Jay-Z’s squad. So what do you do? Stop creating? NO.
Like the Black Yale class of 1863 motto was, “I Will Find a Way or Make One.”
Since I’m young, gifted and black—I found a way. You want to know what I do?
In my shared apartment.
In my room.
In a corner.
On a single wall.
It’s not ideal, but I make it work.
When I first moved to the city, I was pretty optimistic about finding a studio I could afford. So I slowed up on creating new work until I locked down that dream studio space. I had a storage space in Connecticut where a lot of the work I created at Yale was housed and planned on moving everything to the city once I received that letter of acceptance from one of the many residencies I applied to or found an affordable studio space. Well, I still have that storage in Connecticut and I am still searching for an affordable studio space.
I’m not an artist that wants to create where they sleep, but, I’m not going to stop creating. My paintings are really big, so size can be somewhat of an issue. As an artist, I have to think about how to make things work.
So, if you are anything like me, it can be hard to work within the same place you live.
I can’t lock myself in a space and just work away without being in contact with other humans. I have to enjoy life too. So here are some things that I do to keep the creative juices flowing :
· I visit museums and get some inspiration
· I get out of my “studio” and visit a coffee shop to clear my head
· I keep the dream in front of me and focus on making the most innovative work I can.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to make your live/ work space work for you. Even though I don’t have my own studio, I am preparing for my first solo museum show at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Michigan! Just because you do not have what you believe is necessary doesn’t mean it is impossible to create your own way. I encourage you to continue creating. Your work and your purpose are relevant. Create now. Keep pushing towards what you want. Like they said in 1863, “Find a way or make one”.