Monday, September 10, 2012

Bas Fisher International


I’m Audrey Gair, a rising sophomore in MICA’s painting department. This summer I interned for Bas Fisher Invitational alongside Jim Drain and Naomi Fisher. How this came to be is thanks to a long chain of fortunate events. During my senior year of high school I was selected as a finalist in the YoungArts competition. A panel of established artists served as our mentors during the week we spent with YoungArts. Naomi Fisher, a Miami based but internationally known artist was one of these panelists. The summer after I graduated high school I participated in a collaborative art installation with other high school students that was hosted by Locust Projects, an art space in Miami, Florida. The group took several field trips to artists studios in the area, one of them being Bas Fisher Invitational, the space created by and run by Naomi Fisher. I was able to see Naomi again, and this time I saw her space and her work in process. At the time, she had an intern from MICA. I remember thinking to myself that perhaps since this young woman from MICA was working for Naomi that I could one day as well. During winter break of my freshman year at MICA I visited Naomi’s studio with two other YoungArts alumni. At that time she mentioned to us that she would be happy to have any one of us as interns. I promptly emailed her saying that I was interested and she accepted! I was very lucky to be given such an opportunity so easily.


The Bas Fisher Invitational is an artists run alternative arts space located inMiami, FL. Naomi Fisher and Hernan Bas created it in 2004. Now Naomi Fisher and Jim Drain, an artist, run it the space. Their goal is to show new and upcoming artists they are inspired by in order to both help their careers and contribute to Miami’s growing art scene. Naomi and Jim directly worked with me and one other intern everyday.

My role was to assist in whatever Jim and Naomi were involved in doing. In the beginning of the summer they needed to pack their belongings to move to a new studio, so I learned how to archive their art and supplies. The other intern, Marla, and I created a system for Naomi to archive her work and be able to find and refer back to work easily. We also learned the proper way to wrap art so that it is archival and protected. We had a visit from Naomi’s friend who works at an art storage space that told us the best ways to wrap and protect work. 


We also were involved in the planning for Jim’s upcoming show in L.A. The show is in November 2012, but because it will be a solo show, he has already begun planning and creating work that he wants to have in the gallery. He shared with us his interests for the show: weaving, braiding, rugs, and textiles, and we joined him in the researching to strengthen his overall idea for the show. He asked us to look up patterns for friendship bracelets, which are usually made by knotting threads. We experimented with the patterns and presented what we learned about making them to Jim.

Naomi, besides archiving all of her work, was working on a grant for the space. I wrote a budget report for her of her proposed project using the computer program Excel. I learned the basics of Excel, and Naomi taught me about writing grants and putting together packets to present to panels. Getting grants is a necessity for an artist if they wish to make work or projects on a larger scale. 


In July, Naomi and Jim invited Marla and I to go with them to Providence, Rhode Island. Jim had recently been commissioned to make a large public sculpture to be in front of the United States Embassy in Morocco. His alma mater, RISD then invited him to teach a class during their winter session where the students in the class would help to develop the idea for the work. This all happened before I was his intern, so during the summer, he was invited to come back to the campus and finish the project using RISD’s facilities. Because, coincidentally, the Bas Fisher was moving locations at the same time, Jim and Naomi had no working studio space. They accepted RISD’s invitation and moved their studio practice to Providence. Because us interns had had such a successful two months so far working with them, they wished for us to come and continue working with them in Rhode Island. They provided us with transportation up there (we took a road trip up from Miami in a van) and living (Jim sublet a 3 bedroom apartment for Marla and I to live in for the month.)

In all, I suppose I am most proud of how integral a role I actually played in these few months of Naomi and Jim’s lives. We all become very close, and I didn’t feel like an intern at all, I felt more like a friend of theirs, or a family member. We got to know each other so well, when I did a task for them it was so much more than simply doing following directions. I was able to dissect what their intents were and could direct my energies towards what I knew they really needed. What I am taking away from this experience is a stronger work ethic. Naomi and Jim are nonstop workers. They dedicate everyday to art, and they make everyday an opportunity for creativity. This dedication is necessary to become a working artist. After working with them, my desire to become an artists has not wavered, but my idea of what  it actually takes has been clarified.