It has been several months in the making but I’m so delighted to share this news with you. Our former Artist-in-Residence had a huge goal for his residency and this is it. I’ll turn the virtual mic over to him to spill the details:
On the day that it was announced to me that I was chosen to be Richland Library’s Artist in Residence, the first thing that came to my mind was the fact that I would finally have the resources at my disposal to create a unifying artists' directory for Columbia and Greater Columbia’s working artists. This idea, which has been in the depths of my mind for years, I feel is critically essential in an art-loving community like Columbia, South Carolina. Businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations alike constantly use artists to enrich their outreach to the community by using artistic expression to connect to the community.
As a working artist, especially if you are a minority, public visibility is imperative for your survival and without it, you will surely struggle. Columbia, at its core, is an incredibly open and diverse community but over the last few years it has become blatantly obvious that there is still a ton of work to be done regarding race and the disparity in opportunities for minority creatives and professionals in the city. As Columbia learns from the errors of the past and identifies areas of improvement, minority artists have become a high priority in helping realign Columbia into a more inclusive and diverse environment for ALL.
So. What Have We Done So Far?
Thanks to the collaboration between One Columbia and Richland Library, the artist directory is developing into exactly what I envisioned for it to look like. One Columbia had an already existing directory and due to our similar visions, I was able to assimilate the database from that directory, thanks to the leadership from One Columbia director Lee Snelgrove. Jemimah Ekeh, Office Manager at One Columbia, who has been critical to the back end house-keeping and reorganization of the directory, has kept constant communication with me and has already implemented some of the changes I requested to truly match my vision for a Columbia Artist Directory.
I can’t mention names without mentioning my right hand woman, Ashley Warthen, who has lead the charge for the integration of the One Columbia Artist Gallery into Richland Library’s existing website/portal and Phillip Higgins who has done all of the heavy lifting and communication with the website engineers to figure out WHAT this integration would look like on Richland Library’s digital space. Without all these people, I doubt that the directory would be as far along as it is. It truly does take a village to raise a child, and this Artist Directory is our baby.
My favorite part of this whole project is the feedback I have received from my fellow artists. As an artist, I know that procrastination is our biggest obstacle when it comes to doing something that relates to the “business or paperwork” side of being an artist, so I admit that I had to initially apply pressure although there was a ton of interest in the directory. Once the word got out that the sign-up process was painless more and more artists have signed up. People are excited to throw their name in the hat and cannot wait to see the final project. The artist who are minorities as well are the most excited and often say they had wished or thought about a directory of this type before as they felt like a directory like this would be instrumental in minority artists finding and keeping enough work to live and grown in Columbia.
Although this artist directory has the secondary focus of helping to elevate minority artists,
its existence is truly a win for all artists in Columbia. My hope for the future is that the directory becomes a hub for creation, collaboration and communication for ALL of Columbia’s creatives and it becomes an integral part of Columbia’s art scene. -----Crush Rush
I’m grateful for the work Crush has done here with our Library team and our partners at OneColumbia. You should get to know more about what he’s doing these days by clicking HERE.
If you are an Artist, don't forget to add YOUR name to the Artist Directory today. Just visit the Richland Library ART PAGE to find all things Art-related: exhibiting your work at the library, applying for the Artist-in-Residence, visiting our virtual art gallery or learning more about our 1% for Public Art initiatives!