The Artist Project celebrated its fifth instalment this year at the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place, from 1 to 4 March. This unique showcase of independent and up-and-coming Canadian talents is produced by MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties Inc), credited with producing some of the largest art shows in the world.
With several years of experience in the Toronto art scene, Claire Taylor has been the Show Director of The Artist Project for two years. Just days before the opening night kick-off party, Ms. Taylor kindly answered my questions about The Artist Project, the UNTAPPED, and why she believes in supporting the emerging artists.
What is UNTAPPED?
UNTAPPED is a juried competition that allows us to support emerging, independent artist that are still at the beginning of their artistic careers, and also give them the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work in an incredible show.
How competitive is the UNTAPPED competition?
This is one of the most competitive features of the show since the booths are at absolutely no cost to the emerging artists. We spent our summer recruiting artists for the show, visiting artist studios, meeting students at art schools, and holding information sessions all over Canada. This year, we received over 300 applications for the 16 spaces in the UNTAPPED section. There is also a People’s Choice Award that awards one of the UNTAPPED artists a free booth at the 2013 show.
How important do you think is for young artists to get dealer/gallery representation? Or is it possible for them to create their own paths and be “indie”?
This really depends on what the artist is looking for in their career, and their priority to be an independent artist, a gallery-represented artist, or both!
Is the art market friendly to young artists who might not have had much exposure?
Absolutely! This is one of the reasons why the show has been such a success! Visitors love to meet the artists directly, and create that immediate connection with the artist as well as the art work. It’s also a wonderful way to support emerging artists and purchase a great artwork at an affordable price.
What would you like to say to the collectors or ’emerging’ art collectors who might be wary of investing in new talents?
Every great artist was at one point an emerging artist!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
The Artist Project ran at the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place from 1-4 March, 2012.