Friday, June 5, 2020

Social media connects artists across the globe through the Artist Support Pledge

Artists helping artists

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 3:22 PM

click to enlarge Local artist Susan Irish created a Facebook page, Artist Support Pledge Carolinas - RUA SMITH FILE PHOTO
  • Rua Smith file photo
  • Local artist Susan Irish created a Facebook page, Artist Support Pledge Carolinas
This March British artist Matthew Burrows launched an international initiative, the Artist Support Pledge, that helps artists support other artists during the strange and trying times of the coronavirus. The concept is simple: Artists post pieces of their work online priced at $200 (or whatever your country’s equivalent is) and once they sell $1,000 worth of art, they pledge $200 of it to buying another artist’s work.

Locally, West Ashley-based artist and educator Susan Irish has joined the cause, selling several of her pieces of art for $200 or less and launching a Facebook group, Artist Support Pledge Carolinas. The group features artists from both North and South Carolina and currently has 63 members.

Almost every day you can find discounted works of art (all under $200 of course), from colorful oil paintings on wood to photos printed on metal. Artists share their thoughts, too, and the inspiration behind their pieces.

Charleston artist Laura McRae Hitchcock wrote, “I’m amazed by what is happening in nature as we humans have stayed home.” Her oil on panel painting is titled “Take A Breath” and features a turtle peeking his head above water.

Irish said that the movement has been slowly gaining momentum in the Carolinas — “Asheville’s on fire with it” — and she hopes that social media will do what it does best, helping to spread the word through images and hashtags.

The hashtag #artistsupportpledge has 227,000 posts on Instagram, with the number increasing daily.

“What I love about it is that artists are creative problem solvers,” said Irish. “We’re self-sufficient. I think that’s a part that’s really underappreciated.” Irish references the concept of “starving artists” and notes that most artists don’t have to wallow in that kind of self-pity because they’re busy creating and hustling to make money to survive.

Many artists are struggling with an unstable income during quarantine; this initiative hopes to ameliorate that for the greater creative community. Plus, Irish said that this artist-created and supported movement is better for the consumer, too. People looking to buy works of art during quarantine can shop from a curated collection of local and regional artists through the Artist Support Pledge Carolinas Facebook.

Irish compared this online shopping experience to shopping in a big box store: You can either have a sales clerk point you down the aisle to find the item you’re looking for, or you can have the clerk lead you right to the item and put it in your basket. In other words, buying local and supporting artists is easy.

As an educator, Irish is used to teaching students in her home studio and spending a lot of time at home, so quarantine, while monetarily difficult, is not that strange of an experience for her. The trying times we’re living in have inspired different kinds of art; Irish says that the pandemic has forced her to explore concepts of intimacy and solitude and most importantly, patience.

“I hope that these parents who have had to homeschool [their kids] will see the importance of art,” said Irish. “You really need the experience, you can’t just get it from a document. The arts are what are going to save people.”

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