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What Generosity Means To An Artist

by Jessica McCambly

Generosity has been indivisible from my experience of being an artist. I cannot personally separate the two. I have found that taking an active role in creating the scene and being a supportive peer has served me well as an artist and as a human. I was fortunate to come out of a grad program where there was a strong spirit of kindness and collaboration among my peers. I was also lucky to be a part of Texas’ oldest, artist-run collective, 500X. At the same time, John and I opened an experimental project space. We named it good good things. This time of sharing and generosity truly formed the core of what I wanted my creative life to be and has been at the center of my life and career ever since.

When we relocated to San Diego for our teaching positions, we altered the idea for good good things, redefining it as a transitory curatorial project. As good good things, John and I have worked collaboratively with an artist run space (Helmuth Projects) in San Diego, to curate two notable exhibitions, both known as Object Object!. The idea behind the show was that artists would meet, and that an artist-driven network would bloom. And this did happen. And it was beautiful. The secondary piece that we didn’t count on was the line around the block, filled with art lovers,collectors, arts administrators, and curators. In a city where artists struggle for support a nd visibility.. it was amazing. From these two shows, studio visits were scheduled, commissions were requested, curators curated, work was collected, artists felt awesome, friendships were forged, and a community came together.

A valued piece of advice that my mentor, Annette Lawrence, shared with me while in grad school, was to “not get caught up in the art world noise.. just focus on the work and the rest will follow.” She was right, and would like to add that being both a lover and champion of art other than my own has also been so important. I feel that generosity and gratitude go hand in hand. I am so grateful to know other artists. I love their art. I love knowing that they are making art. It makes me want to make my art. I believe that there really is room for all of us. We make the room. When we, as artists create the scene, we drive the scene for each other, and we own the scene together.

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