Monday, September 10, 2007

1. The Proposal

So, I applied for the 2007 Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board with this proposal:
According to climatologists’ latest reports, global warming is reaching the “point of no return.” This means that soon even our protected parks will be rendered unrecognizable by the effects of human pollution. It is my urge in this critical time, as urban sprawl continues paving over precious ecosystems, to experience and record the ancient face of the land on which I was born. I wish to discover what Minnesota was like before the encroachment of European agriculture and industry.

The geography of Minnesota is unique to the world. The three major climate zones of North America converge here, splitting the state into three ecological regions: the eastern broadleaf forest, the northern pine forest, and the western prairie. With the Artist Initiative grant I will travel to Scientific & Natural Areas (protected land preserving rare natural features of Minnesota) in each of the three regions, and create a series of large drawings and intaglio etchings honoring the land.

I am an amateur artist, currently employed at a shop for forty hours a week. With my spare time, I draw as much as possible, trying to build a portfolio of work, with which I apply for grants, residencies, and exhibitions. These opportunities would allow me to spend more time and energy on artistic creation, which is severely crippled by the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Like most artists, my goal is to make enough with my art as to limit my need for additional jobs. I am excited to embark on the project this grant will facilitate.

Artistically, I will be practicing traditional methods of drawing, en plein air, using the simplest of tools. Yet, my pieces will be graphically striking and decidedly contemporary, drawing from such diverse influences as Vincent van Gogh, traditional Chinese painting, Julie Mehretu, and comic book art. I hope to exhibit my body of work from this project in a local gallery.

The grant will cover my living expenses for part of next spring and summer, printmaking studio fees, car rental and supplies for several expeditions, camping fees, copper plates, paper, and other supplies. Taking time off of work will allow me to focus all my energy on the project.

Completion of this project will not only strengthen my portfolio, but will also fulfill a personal vision. I want to draw pictures that affect the viewer with beauty and humor, and that are intellectually accessible to the broadest range of people. My proposal will not only aid in my artistic development, but will educate others as well, with my pictures of ancient, but still living, Minnesota. I will glimpse pieces of the past and record my observations for those who may never see such places first-hand. It is my urge to experience the native state of my home, and to share my discoveries about this land whose ghost lies beneath our streets.

The board felt that the slides of my artwork were strong, and combined with this proposal, that I deserved a grant. I would receive enough money to pay all my bills, including rent, all summer, plus I'd have enough to go on several camping excursions. I would be a full-time artist for three whole months!