Cool!! Wait . . . what?
An artist’s legacy is often held hostage to their own lack of knowledge. Archiving work and recording keeping is not usually part of an artist’s education. As a result, over time, many artists cannot retrace their history and artwork evolution.
A good resource, The Artists Guide by Jackie Battenfield, devotes only a 1/2 page to the importance of keeping a “master” set of artwork images. A short section on Record Keeping (5 pages out of 380 total) begins with “Oh, the dreaded record keeping.” I’m actually very sympathetic to that thought (and as a side note where is the paperless office we as promised 20 years ago?)
But the truth is, record keeping and archiving doesn’t need to be arduous. Actually, it is simple enough, BUT we have to want to do it. And really, who does? As a result, information about all the artwork created by many artists is lost.
So why worry about it? Who cares?
Well, we all should. History, culture, the story of what is to be human; it’s in the details isn’t it? Great or common, everyone is part of it.
History has taught us that “value” rises and falls, “players” are unreliable narrators, and “communication” may happen now or in some indefinite future. But for the story to be told there has to be information, materials, archives, details.
Who is to be trusted with the treasure trove of “us?” Libraries and museums are historically the “keepers” who collect and preserve “stuff,” safeguarding not only objects and records, but the intangible. Kansas City artists are fortunate that the Library of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has created an archive for area artists.
The Artists File Initiative will keep hard copies of artists’ information and create records on the worldcat.org for each artist. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their resources on the Web, where most people start their search for information.
Being on the WorldCat and in the Nelson’s Library will preserve the record of your artwork and make it available to a very large group of users and for a very long time. Artists do have to meet some basic criteria and be at a place in their career to benefit from the file. Library staff can tell you more.
The Kansas City Artists Coalition is pleased to participate in this program.