Show and Share: Artists for SL by Doc Jishnu
An emphasis on support and creative growth has built a strong sense of community among the Artists for Second Life. Jim Slater (jimslater75) stresses that the project is about the community, not about him.
The huge building spans the length and breadth of his homestead, but Slater has masterfully created the inner spaces with purpose. We sit down in the artists’ lounge, a comfy, intimate bistro, and begin our conversation. He explains, “I have always been inspired by doing rather than talking. I visit many galleries…but, I notice that there wasn’t a space for people who want to improve their skills.” Instead, he provides a space open to all levels of artistic skill, from beginners to experienced artists, and to allow them to inspire each other. He added that the process was, “completely nerve-wracking.”
As a new resident of SL, Slater spent much of his time learning how to texture and build. Two months prior, he created a small scale model of what he envisioned as his artists’ cooperative. Early on, he uploaded lindens, and realized that funding in that manner would be prohibitive for him.
He then used his initial capital investment to upload his real life photographs. As his images began to sell, Slater moved from a tiny parcel to one a little bigger, and continued to expand. The cooperative galleries he formed are located in the sky, but the gallery featuring his work stands alone on the ground below. He shared that, “It’s been a bit forgotten, with all the work up here.” He showed me a photo of his first gallery. It was cavernous, huge, but devoid of personality or intimacy. “I have used all of my six months to learn building, editing, photography, etc.”
The Artists for SL gallery, which only started December 1, 2012, focuses on the artists, and keeps, “everybody facing each other.” Important to Slater’s intent, he wants his artists to, “feel part of each other.” He asserts that he’s not a builder, and that he created the gallery space by feel. A shared, communal effort, it has taken on a life of its own.
New artists arrive daily, and others help them settle in. Any artist interested in working and exhibiting can contact Slater via IM. Often one already in the cooperative will recommend another. With no formal application process, Slater meets and talks to each artist. The project is open to all artists, without discrimination. One prerequisite is a passion to improve. He doesn’t want, “those who want to simply throw images up because it’s free.”
Slater is proud that so far, the 98 artists in the project are, “amazing, passionate, and productive.” He confides that he is, “truly humbled and blessed to be surrounded by such amazing artists, and more importantly, such amazing people.”
Slater plans social events, classes, and workshops. For example, Kaijah Chrome offers photography lessons and Maghda runs workshops. Slater, who has yet to host an opening or fundraiser, is too busy getting the project up and running. With no budget, the homestead is all he can afford, for now. Demonstrating his eternal optimism, Slater explained that the limited access of a homestead—the maximum number of avatars accommodated is twenty—turns out to be a positive, for it creates exclusivity.
“If you can’t get in, it makes you want to!”
A full sim will have to wait, while he does what he can with the resources currently available.
Much of what Slater does is a learning experience. His favorite quote is, “You do not know, what you do not know.” He is always eager for suggestions, comments, and knowledge.
At first, most information was shared among the artists. But, Slater now uses group notices and chat for, “keeping the vibe alive.”
“There is genuine, fun, and even totally crazy people. It’s awesome—there is no ego here. It humbles me and makes me want to improve my own skill.”
The cooperative has a large French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch contingent. He hands out a translator to every new artist as they join the project. Every notecard is translated, and Slater has dedicated people in each language who check the translation for accuracy.
Slater sees Artists for SL growing into a few sims across one region. To Slater, it’s not about, “hoarding artists.”
Wander among the images and objects. You will see some easily identifiable items, a portrait, or realistic sculpture. Then, you’ll turn a corner and see something that will make you scratch your head and wonder how, exactly, it was done! Slater continued, “Who inspires who has become multi-dimensional in a true give-and-take creative environment. Even pros are learning and being inspired by newbies. Even the most incredible and inspiring… and ‘intimidating’ artists here (as far as their work goes)… turn out to be humble, genuine and sharing.”
Each artist gets a wall to “expose” their work. They also can have a landmark giver to direct patrons to their own galleries or other exhibits. This is a communal “home” for artists to inspire each other.
Slater emphasizes: “Be open to learning and be prepared to share your own knowledge and skills.” Speaking of hidden talent and skills, Slater’s grandmother taught him to knit!
As our conversation wound down, we went to the gallery to meet one artist and look at her work. Suddenly more arrived—a flash mob! With one quick message in group chat, Slater had assembled an energetic, enthusiastic crowd.
Artists for SL satisfies the need for artists to find this level of belonging, of community, and of visibility. Slater is an exemplary example of someone who comes into SL and creates something larger than himself.
For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com.