Art IRL at the Princeton Public Library
30 May 2021 | 5:31 pm

Art IRL at the Princeton Public Library

May 30, 2021

Gwenn Seemel’s art IRL at the Princeton Public Library
photo by David Vanadia

Letter Love is the name of the exhibition, and it features my art along with Mic Boekelmann’s! We’re each presenting work that uses the alphabet to encourage conversations about belonging.

Mic Boekelmann’s art IRL at the Princeton Public Library
Mic Boekelmann’s art

Mic’s art is inspired by woven abacá from the Philippines as well as Manila envelopes that are made from the same fiber. These simple materials are transformed in her quest to unearth and articulate her identity, becoming bold cutout collages that ask us: what would a reimagined world, where we all felt safe and powerful, look like?

ABC book illustrations by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel’s Baby Sees ABCs

My focus for this exhibit is Baby Sees ABCs, an animal alphabet book which is made up of unusual fauna, polka-dot cubist artwork, and a word search of first names embedded directly into the illustrations. This work celebrates the core truth of the alphabet: the fact that it’s a group of symbols whose meaning we agree on. Every time we use letters and language, we are agreeing with each other again. We are saying yes to working together and yes to all the amazing things we can accomplish when we work together.

Explorer Tiger special edition sticker at the Princeton Public Library
Explorer sticker

When you visit the exhibit, you can even get this special edition tiger explorer sticker, made from this brand new painting! All you have to do is peruse the exhibit labels for unusual animal facts and then share your favorite one with the librarian on duty at the second floor desk, and you’ll receive your free sticker.

Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon
Princeton, NJ 08542

Open: June 1st through August 31st
Hours: open most days, check PPL site for specifics
Pride Artist Talk: online June 23rd at 7p EDT
Artist Talk with Mic Boekelmann: online July 20th at 7:30p EDT

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Just Use It: A Message from Italian Street Artist Alessia Babrow
30 May 2021 | 5:31 pm

Just Use It: A Message from Italian Street Artist Alessia Babrow

May 28, 2021

Alessia Babrow Gesù Cristo Risorto
Alessia Babrow Gesù Cristo Risorto

In 2019, the Italian street artist Alessia Babrow created this image of Jesus, his supersized heart emblazoned with the words “just use it.” This artwork comes from a series depicting religious figures like the Buddha and Ganesha, all with the same big heart and poignant message—part directive and part plea.

Well, the Vatican took Babrow at her word: they just used it—her image, that is—without asking her permission or making any payment. Gesù Cristo Risorto appears on the Holy See’s 2020 Easter stamps.

A year later, Babrow is suing the Vatican, which made some noise about not being able to find the maker of the image back in 2020 when the stamp came out, but which also ignored Babrow’s initial request that the Holy See negotiate terms of use with her.

Alessia Babrow Gesù Cristo Risorto on the Vatican’s stamps
Alessia Babrow artwork on the Vatican’s stamps, photo by Andrew Medichini

While hardly the most unforgivable behavior to come out of a church that has molested children and protected criminals for generations, the Vatican’s copyright carelessness rankles, especially considering how bossy it is when it comes to anything it counts as its intellectual property. The Holy See claims the right to control imagery of everything from the Sistine Chapel ceilings to the person of the Pope himself. If that seems a bit sketchy, that’s because it is. But, when you’re your own tiny country ruled by an infallible religious leader, it’s pretty easy for your version of reality to spin off into nonsense.

Out here in the rest of the world, most of us don’t need a law to spell out just how wrong it is to rip off artists, because anyone with a heart already knows that creatives should be compensated for their labor.

Does this post make you think of something you want to share with me? Do you have a question about my art or my career? Do you want to say hello?

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Venture Café Philadelphia: The Art Business Isn’t Like Any Other Business
30 May 2021 | 5:31 pm

People often say that art is a luxury. It can sound a bit like a compliment—luxury items are, after all, well-made and valuable—but it’s actually quite the opposite. When people say that art is a luxury, what they mean is that it’s nonessential.

This idea is clearly garbage, as anyone who’s ever tried to do without music, books, television, or visual art can attest. Still, the concept maintains its nasty grip on our collective consciousness, creating a culture in which it’s nearly impossible to make money with art.

Some of the difficulty of earning a living with art comes from people who accept this garbage idea and relish receiving well-made valuable things for free. But mostly it comes from the artists themselves. The “art = luxury” paradigm has penetrated into their heart of hearts, and creatives have stopped believing in what they do.

This half hour talk begins to chip away at the “art = luxury” idea, providing practical tips for making money with art while also giving a wider view of how art functions in our world.

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I started off the month of May giving this talk through Venture Café Philadelphia, and I’m ending it by opening a show at the Princeton Public Library!

Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon
Princeton, NJ 08542

Open: June 1st through August 31st
Hours: open most days, check PPL site for specifics
Pride Artist Talk: online June 23rd at 7p EDT
Artist Talk with Mic Boekelmann: online July 20th at 7:30p EDT

I guess it’s safe to say that things really are opening up in the US, though I’m pleased to report that the library is keeping the show events online. I know it’s supposed to be okay for vaccinated people to do just about anything, but the idea of being indoors and unmasked with people who may not have been inoculated bothers me, so I’m happy to err on the side of caution.



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