Smart Art Barter

October 15, 2009

Responding to the economic recession and probing the larger question of the value of works of art, students from the BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department are rethinking systems of exchange with their current exhibition “Outpost.” They are inviting the public to barter goods and services in exchange for their works of art, which include paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture. Next to each work will be a “mailbox,” allowing members of the public to contact the artist with a non-monetary offer to exchange for the work. The artists are also applying a DIY approach by hosting the exhibition in a colorfully decorated studio space at 133/141 West 21st Street, 6th floor. Organized by faculty member and alumnus Amy Wilson (BFA 1995 Fine Arts), the exhibition opens Thursday, October 15, with a reception from 5 – 7pm, and runs through Monday, November 9.


Current student Katie Armstrong, one of the participating artists, co-designed the space for the exhibition. She discussed “Outpost” with the Briefs.

Tell me about the genesis of “Outpost.”
The project sprouted from a discussion that several students had during a drawing class with Amy Wilson. Many of us feel lost when it comes to placing a numerical value on our work. We see “Outpost” as a fun, interactive way to get artists and those buying art to have dialogue regarding the value of artwork.

How do you think the exhibition fits in (or doesn’t fit in) with other activity in the art world?
I think “Outpost” is definitely cohesive with what is going on in the art world today. With our current economic situation forcing even the bustling gallery community in Chelsea to shrink, now is the time for alternative exhibition spaces more than ever. The BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department is about to release its first set of graduates into the world, myself included, and we know that scoring gallery representation is going to be harder for our generation. Perhaps it is time for us to reconvene with the general public in a non-threatening environment. Maybe it is time for artist and art buyer to really communicate.

Are there any offers that you are hoping to receive for your pieces in the exhibition?
I am pretty open to anything, as far as trading goes, but something edible would definitely be extraordinary—like a bag of oranges or a bottle of wine. Cat food is also on the wish list for a few of us!

Click here to read more about “Outpost” on the exhibition’s blog.

Image: “Outpost” postcard, designed by Katie Armstrong.

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