I am paying off the combinded student loan debt of my BFA and MFA. I currently owe approximately $26,000 to Sallie Mae of the $38,000 I borrowed starting in 1994. I also owe approximately $1,800 on two credit cards.
I am able to make ends meet by working part-time as public high school teacher in Brooklyn and the rest of the time as an artist. I live in Bushwick with my wife who is also an artist and who works as an adjunct professor, studio assistant, and freelance designer. We rent both our apartment and two studios to continue our practice. As an artist with commercial gallery representation, DebtFair is an opportunity to express solidarity with the broader art community and raise awareness about the economics of the art market. Debtfair raises important questions at the point of exchange itself about the price of art and an arts education in the greater economy. At this point, I'm not sure everyone is going to like what they learn about what that exchange may involve when debt becomes income.
My economic reality has always required me to work a full or part-time job since high school in order to support myself and my artistic practice. This constraint became part of the form and content of my work as I incorporated my experiences as a struggling artist and art critic. As I have moved through the art world, I have continuously reflected on my experience, often through satire of my own class identity. It has often made my work derisive and critical of the art world and how it reflects our broader social, economic, and political realities. I believe that Debtfair provides a necessary context for raising awareness about the economic reality facing not only artists, but anyone who is taking on large amounts of debt for higher education in an economy with stagnant wages and increasing income inequality.