BFAMFAPhD is a collective of artists, designers, technologists, organizers, and educators who work in the intersection of art, technology, and political economy.
Concerned about the impact of debt, rent, and precarity on the lives of creative people, BFAMFAPhD asks: What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? BFAMFAPhD creates reports, pedagogical tools, and movement syllabi, including Artists Report Back, Census Report, Statements and… in which nothing can be finally paid off. BFAMFAPhD’s work has been cited widely by mainstream and art-centric press and has been exhibited at The Museum of Art and Design, Cleveland Art Institute, and The Brooklyn Museum. Select residencies and presentations include Triangle Arts Association, Brooklyn, NY, workshops at the Brooklyn Museum, Creative Time Summit and international weeklong intensives in Sweden and Denmark.
BFAMFAPhD Core Members are Susan Jahoda, Emilio Martinez Poppe, Agnes Szanyi, Vicky Virgin, and Caroline Woolard. Contributors include Lika Volkova, Ben Lerchin, and Kieran Startup. Previous Members include Blair Murphy, Ann Chen, Jeff Warren, Pasqualina Azzarello, Dia Felix, Art Jones, Alex Mallis, and Zipeng Zhu.
We invite contributions to BFAMFAPhD. Email us: info [at] BFAMFAPhD.com
As artists and art school graduates, we often find ourselves in conversations about the difficulties of continuing our practice as writers, authors, artists, actors, photographers, musicians, singers, producers, directors, performers, choreographers, dancers and entertainers. We struggle to support ourselves with jobs outside of the arts and we struggle to earn a living in the arts. Yet art school administrators and “creative class” reports assure us that arts graduates make a living in the arts. Loan officers insist that art students can afford art school tuition, repaying student loans over time by working in the arts. This is not our experience. We decided that it was time make our own report.
Connecting our lived experiences to national trends, we wanted to know: What is the impact of rent, debt, and precarity on working artists and arts graduates nationally? How many of us are there? If we are not supporting ourselves as working artists, what jobs do we work?
We looked at artists’ demographics, occupations, educational attainment, field of degree, and earnings as recorded by the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest survey that collects data about artists, surveying roughly 1 out of every 100 persons in the nation. With this data in hand, we made this report to reframe conversations about the current conditions and contradictions of arts graduates, and to make informed decisions about the ways we live and work. At the end of the report, please see our recommendations for organizational change and interpersonal action.
We see visual artists, creative writers, architects, and many people speaking up against rising debt, racial and gender inequity, and precarious labor in the arts. We are teaching that another way is possible – solidarity art worlds. We made Artists Report Back not as an argument of economic justification — it is a reflection on the conditions of cultural work in the United States today that paves the way for cultural equity initiatives locally and nationally.
Ways of Being: a Holistic Approach to Art Education is a free resource for educators that can be used in classroom, exhibition, and workshop contexts to analyze and reimagine power relationships in the arts. The text, workbook, and card game are tools that prompt investigations into the whole life of projects—the ways materials are sourced, how the labor for producing a project is organized, how tools are accessed, how an artwork is supported, copyrighted, narrated, encountered, acquired, and how it finally departs, ready for another life cycle. Ways of Being: a Holistic Approach to Art Education offers the vocabulary of supply chains to articulate the politics of production behind any project. When the lifecycle of a project is discussed, a wide range of choices for organizing work, compensating workers, and producing projects becomes visible and open to contestation.
Ways of Being is published by Punctum Books.
A website with teaching tools, videos, and presentations to accompany Ways of Being is coming soon!
The Atlantic, November 6, 2014.
New York Times, October 29 2014.
The Dish, October 25 2014.
Bad at Sports, October 24, 2014.
The Huffington Post, Arts and Culture, October 24, 2014.
The Washington Post, October 21, 2014.
The New Yorker, October 20, 2014.
Hyperallergic, October 20, 2014