According to the dictionary, the word emerging literally means “to come into existence; to develop.”
So for many artists, being an “emerging” artist might appear to be a good thing. For a while, I thought it was good it thing. It seems to describe a lot of us who are at the beginning of our careers in fine art. . . who are coming into existence and developing as artists.
Some galleries cater specifically to emerging artists. They seek to represent this group only—its the business they’re in. But lately I’ve learned that the term “emerging” can be a negative word in the art world. Why? Because being an emerging artist depends entirely upon your age.
That’s right, I said age. Not art.
There’s a more limited definition of the word “emerging” that may eliminate you from opportunities before you ever hit the door. This definition states you can only “emerge” between the ages of 25-31.
Anything older than that and you’re in another group, or you’re not anything at all. Galleries won’t look at your work, exhibitions won’t even consider you an option. By this rule you just don’t exist. Even if it’s possible that you’re as good as an old world master, it’s best to just give up. . . all because your path in art didn’t start and fit a defined label.
As a newly emerging artist this discovery has left me with many questions.
Exactly how large is this culture of limitation? How many opportunities are missed? How many galleries are trying to sell youth over quality? How many great undiscovered artists have been passed over just because they didn’t fit into the right age range?
The stinging reality is that this flawed concept of what an “emerging artist” is has created a situation where opportunities are missed for both the artist and the gallery. A segment of emerging artists won’t get their moment, and galleries themselves are much more limited in what they can show.
Art lovers take the hit for this too. They miss out on seeing the next undiscovered big thing, the ingenuity of raw talent in the making, the true expression of a new artist. . . simply because someone put an age limit on creativity.
Why this practice is accepted and perpetuated just leaves me shaking my head. Maybe you should be shaking your head too.
To learn more about Randal Stringer, please visit his website at Artworks380.com.
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