“I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.” -Tennessee Williams
Strength is not easily defined. There is an idea of strength we are told to believe that almost always contradicts the true picture. Strength is messy and often does not appear strong in the moment. It is the ability to carry on, no matter how meekly, in the face of adversity. It is knowing when not to confront, not being afraid to demonstrate vulnerability and reaching out toward those who need us. Strength is also the act of accepting help when we need it, knowing our own limits, accepting them and believing they can be overcome.
Šejma Fere spoke to us in mid-April from Belgrade. Three years ago she had a baby and bought a house, both of which continue to consume much of her time and energy. Renovating the 100-year-old house, which will become her home and studio, has been an educational experience, giving her insight and respect into the building process. She saved the antique house from destruction and says that in the area many old buildings are knocked down to build apartment complexes. As an artist, Fere is a collagist as well as working with mixed-media and installation pieces. Through the renovation process, which Fere is undertaking slowly with the help of family and friends, she has learned about new materials to work with. To hear more about this herculean task, a future exhibition in Pittsburgh and more, listen to the complete interview.
Avery Z. Nelson felt optimistic when they spoke to us from DUMBO Brooklyn where they have been in residency for a year and a half. From their vantage point, overlooking a park, they see signs of life returning and looks forward to re-emerging and regaining the things missed during the pandemic. Although they have remained in residency throughout COVID, studio space was shut down for six months. Because of this, they were allowed an additional year of access to the studio space. Prior to the pandemic, Nelson was working on a series of paintings based on movement and dance. Their presence in the techno community was part of the inspiration for this series, as was the experience of living within their own finite body. To hear more about the inspiration for this series, listen to the complete interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
Don’t let others define your strength.
Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Šejma Fere recently read some George Orwell including Down and Out in Paris and London and Animal Farm. Avery Z. Nelson just finished a painting based on We Both Laughed in Pleasure by Lou Sullivan.
Rauschenberg Emergency Grants are a partnership between the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and NYFA intended to provide one time emergency grants of up to $5,000 to artists to cover medical or dental costs. Grants are available to artists from all disciplines. To learn more or to apply, visit the website. Deadlines are rolling.
Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius. His forthcoming book, Making it in the Art World, is available for pre-order with bonus content here.