Monday, December 4, 2023

On Altruism

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Humans possess a great depth of capacity when it comes to altruism. Again and again, we demonstrate our tendency to reach out when others are in distress. Cultivating these instincts is one of the ways in which we connect with our own humanity. Studies have indicated that altruism is not entirely innate. Environment plays a key role in the development of the qualities of altruism. Practicing this trait strengthens not only our own individual ability to extend hope and help to our fellow species, it allows us to explore more deeply our own inner kindness.

Mark Guglielmo just finished an exhibition at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Guglielmo’s work pieces together photo collages to form a larger image. For his recent show, he used photos from his time spent in Cuba. To complement the work, Guglielmo conducted interviews which were then incorporated in the exhibition. The particulars of the work involve thousands of photographs. Guglielmo captures detailed images of every nuance of a person, place, or thing. From these, he painstakingly compiles what he refers to as “a 1000-D version of reality.” A natural storyteller, Guglielmo says the audio portion of his work was important to transport people to Cuba. Guglielmo witnessed the recent changes to the island nation. He decided to record the perspective of the Cuban people when it came to the coming changes to their relationship with the U.S. Guglielmo kept his conversations informal and allowed Cuban residents to drive them in order to keep them safe from government targeting for speaking out. The conversations revealed the daily lives of Cubans often in the context of wealthy western tourists vacationing in the shadow of extreme poverty. Recent political tensions between the U.S. and Cuba have interfered with plans to show the work there. Guglielmo is considering focusing his lens on Puerto Rico next to document the ongoing hardship in the wake of hurricane Maria.

Frank Juarez is the co-founder of the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection and project manager of the Randall Frank Artist Grant Program. Juarez says the Randall Frank collection began quite organically. Juarez and his high school and college friend Randall shared a lifelong affinity for art. When they wanted to work together, art was the common theme they shared. Together, they began a collection and strove to support artists from their area. In the early days, they worked under a tight budget, purchasing art quarterly and storing them in Randall’s home in Richmond, Virginia. The two began looking for opportunities to sponsor art events. Their first endeavor in this capacity was a mural project in Milwaukee’s Black Cat Alley. Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection (RFCAC) hopes to one day create a public space where they can house their collected art and make it available to the public. As they became more established, RFCAC decided the best, most direct way to support artists was through a grant program. RFCAC’s pilot program seeks to support artists in the midwest and east coast regions of the U.S. The grant is presently privately funded. Juarez works in many capacities within the art world. He is a gallery director, curator, and educator. Randall works in the private sector as a chemist.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Soften your heart and open your mind to the possibilities of altruistic behavior.

Additional interviews include Petah CoyneTim Murphy, and part II of our talk with Chavisa Woods.

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. Frank Juarez has been reading Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shor. User Rick Garcia recently read The Field by Lynne McTaggart

Opportunities / Open Calls

The pilot program of the Randall Frank Contemporary Art Collection Artist Grant is accepting submissions. Grant awards range from $250 to $1000 and are available to visual artists working in midwestern and east coast U.S. states. For a full list of eligible states, see the submission guidelines on their website. Deadline is December 1.



Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



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