To celebrate the Joan Mitchell Foundation's 25th anniversary, we invited 25 artists to reflect on the impact of receiving support from the Foundation over the years, and to share how they activated the resources provided by the Foundation. We collected their stories, along with studio portraits of the artists by photographer Reginald Eldridge, Jr., into an exhibition and book entitled Widening Circles: Portraits from the Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Community at 25 Years. Here is the 7th story in our series, from Denise Schatz:
I was honored to work as an Artist-Teacher for the Joan Mitchell Foundation for close to a decade (2007–16). The Foundation’s Arts Education program was stellar in its scope and philosophy. It brought together a group of strong and tirelessly creative individuals who shared a common goal: bringing art to Out-of-School-Time programs throughout the city that instilled our students with a sense of artistic curiosity and nourished critical-thinking skills—strengths that Joan Mitchell herself embodied. Our students were excited to be working with artists and materials that were new to them and often shared how important and supportive this creative time was in their lives. My colleagues at the Foundation have been like family, and I am so proud to have been part of the education program.
I also worked as a Legacy Specialist in the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) program and was very lucky to spend time with the artist Mimi Smith. While working on her archive, I learned a great deal about the art world through her artwork and experiences. Mimi is prolific and her commitment to creating on a daily basis has inspired how I go about making my own work. We came across some photographs of fabric sculptures she installed on the roof of her East Village apartment, pieces she referred to as “earrings for the city.” I went on to publish a small artist book of these photographs, titled 1965, through my imprint, Miniature Garden.
In addition to publishing Mimi’s book, I have collaborated on projects with other Joan Mitchell Foundation artist colleagues, including Natalie Beall, Sharela Bonfield, Valerie Piraino, Antonia Perez, Gretchen Scherer, and Sarah Wang. I feel very lucky to have worked with so many incredible artists through the Foundation.
Read more about Widening Circles and download the full book here.
All photos © 2018 Reginald Eldridge, Jr.