The woes of being an artist are compounded by the woes of being a community arts organizer. Neither job field is known for paying well (or at all), and both job fields promise intense labour with no guarantee of success.
So why, in 2019, after almost 5 years of full-time work in the creative arts and community arts, am I opening a studio?
In some ways, it’s literally because I’ve been working for so long at those two intersections. Working in community arts has taught me so much about the value of creative community and creative programming. This has impacted my personal practices as an artist in profound ways.
At the same time, building space and structures for artists and community arts programming has taken so much of my life that I’ve always had to squeeze my own craft into the cracks.
Project 40 Collective, founded in early 2015 was an attempt to bridge folk from many different places and walks all looking for creative community; all struggling with identity politics and creative processes. It’s solidly grounded in the localized contexts of Toronto, GTA, and Canada at large, and aims to engage in complex ways with issues, topics, and art conversations specific to our community.
Teh People Studio is, in many ways, a more self-oriented endeavour. Over the years of building P40 I’ve crossed paths with many creatives who don’t fit the demographics of the collective’s work, but who I really want to engage with. I’ve also gained tons of new skills, developed love for all kinds of craftwork, and accidentally (but not really) evolved into an interdisciplinary artist.
Teh People is a call to look for tea people, folks of the diaspora from anywhere in the world. To me, tea people exercise a quietness and constancy in their creative process that I admire and love. This is not to say that they are always making, but that they remain committed to walking the inroads of their being and drawing strength and inspiration from those journeys. I aspire to be a tea person in my work every day, and I’m interested in talking to and learning from others who work in the same spirit.
My professional adventures look like a cluster of stars loosely configured into constellation, connecting disparately without a clear image but also functioning as a guiding sign. Teh People is me gifting myself space and time to create just for me and not for a larger community or a cause. I don’t think the two are separate from each other but I do believe that intentionality is needed to make meaningful, creative and thoughtful things. I am exercising personal intentionality.
Deciding to move into a studio space, courtesy of the wonderful Makeshift Collective is a commitment to make space for myself, and different kinds of work from my hands. You can read more about that at jaziimun.
I’m excited to build a little nest of creative pieces, to embark on completely new explorations of craft and art, and to see what new selves I’ll grow into on the way.
I hope you’ll join me on this adventure 🙂