Alejandro Gonzalez Valle
Artists and art historians Mehmet Dogu, Miki Garcia and Monica Wiesblott shared their education and career experiences Wednesday, Oct. 18, at City College for the discussion panel “How I Made It in the World of Art: Career Paths for Art-Related Majors and Those Interested in Pursuing Careers in Art.”
“I was really hungry for exposure and opportunity, so I jumped at every chance I got,” said Garcia, the executive director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.
Garcia studied art history, and now as part of her job she travels to art studios, international art fairs and art galleries around the world. She is also soon-to-be director at University of Arizona Art Museum.
Garcia said she was able to get to where she is now with the help of her community and family. She was also previously a part of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives, which trains young Latinos who want to go into the art field.
“It’s not traditionally something that you see people a lot of people who look like me in,” said Garcia. “I’m not the kind of person that says I did it all on my own.”
Out of college, Garcia said she worked as a museum intern and at Victoria’s Secret to afford living while she saw others who graduated with her working in investment banking hanging out on yachts.
However she said her job affords her “an incredible wealth of satisfaction and joy.”
Wiesblott, a photographer and printmaker shared her experience with rejection, but she describes having her work accepted as magical and validating
“Rejection is a massive part of the career,” Wiesblott said. “Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.”
She advises to learn how to do everything— to understand what’s being made in the community, to go to art galleries and read books.
She has also taught art and art history in Israel to homeschooled children. Her artwork was recently exhibited in Dublin, Ireland.
“Traveling not only allowed me to see the world, but photograph the world and understand it in a different way,” she said.
Dogu, who previously worked in finance but now works as an Exhibition Designer at UCSB Art Design and Architecture Museum said that a creative life is hard, and if you are not motivated to do the work and find your voice, it’s going to be harder.
Like Dogu, the panelists all touched on the struggle between making money and pursuing your dreams. They stressed the importance of hard work, but all ultimately shared the message of being happy with what they are doing.
“Create your own opportunity,” he said. “The idea of doing art work is not doing what you know, but doing what you don’t know.”