Last Wednesday, in collaboration with Fishcake, the BoxJelly kicked off a fun evening of raffle prizes and info-packed conversation with its inaugural artist in residence, Amelia Samara and Laurie Sumiye, our second artist in residence and newly appointed coordinator of the program. Through this presentation- style conversation, audience members learned more about this unique opportunity and what it takes to become our next artist in residence.
The two artists started by introducing themselves: Amelia grew up in many places, a factor which she attributes to shaping her work and interests. She remarked that while in school, there was perhaps a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the conceptual aspect of art while very little to no attention on the business side. After graduating with BFA in Fiber Arts from University of Hawai’i, she tried to grapple with how to actually make a living as an artist coming from a background where “making beautiful art for the sake of just making beautiful art is not encouraged.”
Born and raised in Mililani, Laurie Sumiye took an 18 year hiatus from the islands until returning to the Big Island where she began a documentary focused on an endangered native Hawai’ian bird called the Palila. During her time away from Oahu, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Art and Communication, worked in web design and advertising, and then earned a filmmaking degree at Hunter College.
Both artists agreed that this residency provides the unique opportunity to understand the professional side of your career as an artist. With a very supportive network of people from both the BoxJelly and Fishcake, you will have people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. The program provides a chance to explore and develop your practice, but also works within a mindset that reassures you that it is okay to create something to sell. Amelia commented that it was a pretty intuitive process, which she entered without knowing exactly what she wanted to do, although artists are required to submit a proposal as part of the application process. While Laurie noted that the program helped keep her on track, by setting deadlines (now 3 months, instead of 6) it also helped her engage with an audience, and connect what she is interested in with a local audience. She now feels that she is at a point where where her art making is a sustainable career, and left the audience with a statement: “It’s possible to live in Hawai’i, to make a living doing what you love *and living in Hawai’i*. You don’t have to go somewhere else, and there’s support for what you do [here], that was my biggest revelation.”
Applications are due June 15 at midnight. More information about the program can be found here.
The event was live streamed on Facebook, watch now: link: https://www.facebook.com/fishcake.hawaii/videos/10155274611678632/
Below is an outline that highlights the types of questions asked in the conversation and by the audience along with it’s corresponding times in the live stream recording:
14:40 — What was the process like of having an exhibition at the BoxJelly and the selling work at Fishcake?
18:30 — The most surprising thing?
22:40 — What’d you do after the residency and how did it help you move forward in your practice?
24:50 — Did you find that in being in this space, in this community, affected your art at all?
28:24 — Tension between commercial aspect of selling vs. conceptual, conversation-sparking art. Is there one?
29:39 —How Laurie chose birds as her subject.
36:39 —What would be useful to know for applying if you had not done this before? Whats required of the artists?
43:00 — Lessons learned as program alumnae. If you could do things differently knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?