Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sarah Smalls

My name is Allie Stephens and I’m a Senior Photography Major with a Theatre Concentration. Over the summer of 2012, I was an intern for Sarah Small Photography LLC, based in Brooklyn, NY. Sarah Small is a photographer but also the creator of a 120+ people performance piece called The Living Picture Project/Tableaux. Alexander Heilner, one of my professors and Dean of Media at MICA, exposed me to Small’s work whereupon I emailed her and asked if she needed an intern. I sent her and her studio manager, Chrissie Rousse, my resume and then was requested to have a Skype interview. After the interview and they had checked my references, they welcomed me on board as their first intern! From July 1st to August 6, 2012, I worked alongside Chrissie, Sarah, and the Tableaux team to further the evolution of the Living Picture Project and Sarah Small Photography. My work varied from day to day. I found contacts for the team that would be important in hiring new team members from Ivy League schools. I researched and found grants for the team that could apply to certain aspects of the Tableaux performance, which involve music, theatre, performance art, vocal scores, dance, and video. I retouched and edited stock photographs for Getty Images, keyworded Sarah’s archive, and edited photographs of events that would be sent to other clients.

Some days my tasks were very difficult, such as researching and finding contact information of dozens of major curators from around the world that could be contacted directly by the team for representation. This was exciting for me because I had to use my problem solving skills to find information, which is kept from the general public for privacy reasons. I researched and comprised a contact list of galleries that represent multidisciplinary artists in the Northeast Region. I visited some of these gallery locations and explored their shows to identify which galleries would be the best fit for Sarah’s work. I was able to use my understanding of Sarah’s work and my knowledge of the current art scene to decipher which galleries were open to something as unique as the Tableaux, and which were just following the crowd by presenting ironic minimalist sculptures made of tape and spray paint.

I also provided technical details on executing a traveling performance by researching and providing the logistics of foreign performance taxes/performance rights organizations and performance visa requirements. I am really thankful I had such extensive practice in researching. Doing such technical things has broadened my horizons to see just how much of the art industry is really business related. I have developed the business side of my art brain, which is something I was not often exposed to in college. I have learned what it takes to get grants, to network, to find representation, to work with a large stock photo company, and to work with a large team on a large-scale project.

I have been invited to come back to New York anytime as the Tableaux keeps growing, and I plan on doing so. What I am the most thankful for is my time with the whole team during production meetings. Just seeing how each person can add a piece of the puzzle to get something done is so inspiring. The team of creatives that I have gotten to know and the work I have done to help this project has really motivated me as an artist to not just wait around. This internship has helped me see that with hard work and networking, being a practicing artist is, although not always easy, completely within my reach.