Jason Christopher Childers™
How did you get into debt?
I owe my soul to the banks for loaning me the money to go to college. My financial lineage is little to none. In a nutshell my grandparents were traveling preachers, my father was orphaned at a young age, he was later disabled working at a truck stop when I was 2, and my mother worked at a hospital. After I graduated with my BFA the first recession hit. I was laid off and went back to school to get my Master's in Education. I proceeded to get my MFA but Teach for America took all of the k-12 teaching jobs and most colleges and universities, especially arts programs, either went under or maintained hiring freezes. It appears that many art programs in higher education function on the exploitation of adjuncts. That is where I am now with two Master's degrees, 4.0 GPA's, and getting paid $2000 per course.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
In a nutshell I believe that an artist makes art from their own existential standpoint, which includes the context in which they exist - the context that shapes who they are. But, finances are the basis for exposure and opportunity for an artist, much like a business. I have taken this very premise as a platform for some of my work that deals with economic realities, opportunities, professional rapport, and validity. In Forced Exhibitions I forcibly exhibit my work, specifically self portraits, in validated and esteemed museums and galleries. The exhibition itself is a means to an end (and a free gift to the unsuspecting viewer). The artwork is fulfilled when I put the exhibition on my CV. This leaves one to question whether such an exhibition is valid enough to be portrayed professionally on a CV. One person sent me a check in the mail for a painting they found at MOMA. They took the validity of the work further by displaying it as a valuable acquisition from an artist exhibiting at MOMA. In this body of work I create my own opportunities and exploit the validity of these institutions to become more esteemed and valuable.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
Without debt my work would absolutely be different! I would be able to buy high quality equipment and materials that cater to the contemporary fine art market. I would also have more time (the most important commodity of all!) to produce work and to make connections to get my work shown. I have seen wealthy artists who are able to produce so much fancy, dazzling, technologically savvy, and bougie artwork. This is very attractive to commercial galleries, the fine art market, and the collectors thereof. Their inherited wealth also politically provides opportunities through power and generations of connectivities and influence. The greatest determining factor of success is the wealth of one's parents - a class of nobility. I could have gone to Ivy League schools with my academic record, if only I could afford them. These schools, opportunities, and materials are tropes of validity that lead to "success".