Reviewing the workshop as a team, we have begun the discussion of what worked well, what didn’t, and what all of this means for next year’s workshop. Before the artists left the NCMA we asked them to fill out a quick survey on how they felt the day went. Their feedback provides much helpful insight.
Several artists observe that participating in the workshop positively impacts their self-image – one artist is pleased to find “Wow, people in the field really care about my work” and another feels the workshop “may be the most important event I have attended as an artist.” In analyzing the recorded responses, Erin and Colin find that 96% of participants feel that the workshop as a whole “exceeded expectations.” In the responses and in personal interactions, the artists are overwhelmingly positive about the experience and many express thanks for all of the hard work that went into making this day happen. Gratifying and encouraging news for the team to hear, particularly as we begin to plan the next workshop. As requested, many artists also provided constructive criticism which we hope will lead to improvements for next year.
Several participants noted the diverse range of artists present at the workshop: Elizabeth and Erin have introduced some of the artists in previous posts – we have painters, sculptors, photographers, mixed media and fiber artists, and all at different stages in their artistic careers – from just starting out to well-established. Diversity is a stated project goal and something key to its success. It also means we have a wide range in the technological comfort-level of the participants which proves challenging, particularly in the breakout sessions focused on areas where (as Kim noted) we cannot offer standardized best practices, simply because they do not yet exist. For example, one young artist I talked with had first heard about the workshop through Twitter (#artiststudioarchives) and attended the “Web and Social Media” session led by Kim to learn how to manage her online presence – to define the fuzzy line between her professional/artist persona and her personal life, a truly complex and perplexing issue we all face.
Another artist expresses dismay after the “Digital Preservation” session because he assumes we asked him to digitize his entire collection of analog materials, a hugely daunting task. His confusion underscores the need clarifying terms like “born-digital” and the difference between preservation and conservation. Several artists note this same overarching issue in their responses – it’s difficult to make every breakout session applicable and helpful for every attendee because their needs are so varied. We’re already discussing are several ways to address this issue for the next workshop. For example, the “Artwork Inventories” session was attended by 72% of the participants and all of those who attended found it “very applicable,” while the “Archiving Performance Art” session was only attended by one artist (although others did express interest, they ultimately chose other sessions to attend.) This gives us ideas for next year’s sessions – possibly making “Inventories” an introductory session available to all attendees, and adjusting other topics to better meet the attending artists’ specific needs. We have much to consider and synthesize for next year, but in the meantime we are also focused on:
Another stated goal of the Learning from Artist’s archives project is the hope that it can serve as a model for other institutions to follow. To that end, many of us will present numerous aspects of the project at various professional conferences. In fact, this weekend, three of the first year fellows – Elizabeth, Erin, and I, are excited to present the first ASA workshop at the ARLIS/SE chapter conference in Atlanta. Kim and Heather hope to present at the annual ARLIS/NA conference (Kim with a poster presentation, Heather with a panel) in Seattle this coming March. Meanwhile Colin is considering presenting his current work with Cornelio Campos at the Personal Digital Archiving conference, Ann Arbor in May. (Keep an eye out for his next blog post on this same topic!) We will post in the Public Presentations section of this site as schedules are confirmed. Please also note that many of the handouts from the ASA workshop are now available in “Resources.” The Workbook effort also continues, stay tuned for updates!