The Next Generation: Egypt Robinson: The Art World As I Know It
I am always interested in the opinions and perspective of the next generation of photographers. Today we feature an essay written by Egypt Robinson. – Aline Smithson
As a creator, the art world is the entity that permits me to express my creativity in its purest form. It is the outlet in which my imagination is free to roam without fear of being stifled. What I appreciate most about this faction is the sense of community I have found here. The supportive atmosphere is what keeps me inspired, and it enables me to continue refining my artistic skills. From TFP projects to collaboration requests of fellow artists and photographers, I can see this community genuinely wants its members to showcase their talents and thrive. Additionally, I am ever grateful for the platform photography and art afford me in terms of self-expression. As a woman of color, I value the proper representation of the beautiful minority groups that inhabit our world. Through my photographs, I strive to capture the true essence of these communities which would typically be overshadowed in other forms of media representation. In essence, the art world has been a magnificent medium of self-expression for me, and I look forward to witnessing the inevitable expansion of this community over time.
As a student, however my picture-perfect view of this community becomes polluted as I reflect on my college years, and the financial demands of an undergraduate and fine art curriculum. I recently entered my fifth and final year of undergrad and have a great quantity of debt to show for it. At my institution the cost of just one three credit course is roughly $1300, and that does not include the additional fees mandated by both educators and the institution I attend. What’s more, some of the courses I’ve been enrolled in required the immediate acquisition of costly photographic-related equipment which in most cases can be difficult to do. Unless one is financially well off, the pursuit of a fine art education at the collegiate level cannot be done without some form of financial aid which in my case is student loans.
The struggle to meet my university’s financial demands coupled with a lifetime’s worth of debt in which I have found myself in points to a lack of sufficient funding. I speak for myself, and on behalf of my fellow students when I say more investment into the art community is essential. The setbacks I have faced in terms of financial distress are similar to those of Imani Celestin, a graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado and the Savannah College of Art and Design. When asked about her experience studying interior design and the barriers she faced in pursuit of her degree, she explained, “That’s the drawback to my art. Unless you also ‘get it,’ I think it’s hard for people to understand that it’s art. That was something I really discovered when trying to get scholarships for my bachelor’s degree. I went to an art school, but there were so many more scholarships for the more traditionally accepted art forms than mine. It was frustrating.” The disparities she notes shed light on another area the art community could improve in. Failing to recognize unconventional forms of design as art makes it difficult for some to acquire the resources they need and deserve to further their career.
As I transition out of college, I realize a university level art education is just one out of several pathways I can take to enhance my skill. For the last two years, I’ve been more reliant on alternative resources to aid me with my photography. In a world where technology is constantly advancing, I am grateful for platforms such as YouTube, Cambridge in Colour, and Photography Pro. Said platforms are administered by established artists who provide useful photography information either for free, or for a small fee. Additionally, the most important element I’ve noted from my personal journey as a photographer is that experience is the best teacher. Sure a traditional classroom setting along with the tips provided by digital platforms are helpful, but kinesthetic learning has always been more effective. There’s something about picking up my camera and undergoing trial and error that helps me in a way other tools haven’t. Lastly, as a Denver native I feel fortunate to reside in a city that has a vibrantly thriving photographic/art scene. Here, I can turn to local artists for assistance if I ever needed it. Lastly, despite any challenges, Denver’s emerging art community is my proof that there is ample opportunity for me to grow as a photographer and excel.
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