Greetings, Superscript-ers! I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the Superscript Blog Mentorship program as one of three “enterprising” bloggers, especially as a Twin Cities resident. I’m a graduate student in the MA Art History program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., with a BA in Communication & Journalism and Art History (also from the University of St. Thomas).
As an undergrad, arts writing opportunities felt scarce to me. The state of the arts at my college seemed bleak when I first started. By that I mean the theater program and theater proper were both dissolved and demolished shortly before I began, and there was no studio arts program to be found. To be clear, I didn’t intend on majoring in anything arts-related, but writing about art appealed to me, yet it didn’t seem like we had much art on campus. Moreover, the student news publication rarely published reviews about art, let alone criticism. Despite this, I found a home in the art history department, where I could write about visual culture to my heart’s content. Still, I yearned for a broader audience.
With limited opportunities to write about art on campus, I turned to Google in search of internship, freelance, and networking opportunities. Google “Twin Cities arts criticism” and the first results are tabloid-style entertainment publications and mainstream local news — both of which are important for getting the word out, but generally lack the critical edge I was looking for. Among the other Google results, I learned about Artpaper (1981–1993), the Visual Arts Critics Union of Minnesota (VACUM) and Art Review & Preview (ARP!) — the latter two of which dissolved around the time I entered college. I quickly learned that what appeared to be a recent problem with Twin Cities arts criticism wasn’t a recent problem at all, it was just the latest decline in a historically volatile trend.
In a sense, I wrote off critical arts writing in the Twin Cities, albeit prematurely, in part because I wasn’t familiar with some of the great work already happening in places like the Twin Cities Daily Planet or Mnartists.org. What got me interested in arts journalism again, though, was social media — Tumblr specifically, and projects like Kimberly Drew’s Black Contemporary Art in particular. Reinvigorated, I’ve begun to explore community-based arts projects and post-disciplinary approaches to arts criticism. Spaces like Tumblr are only part of the answer to what seems like a Minnesotan ambivalence to arts criticism, so at Superscript I’ll be thinking broadly about sustainable, inclusive platforms for fostering independent arts criticism and amplifying the voices of other local writers and artists, in spaces that don’t already exist. I’m eager to connect with those already actively writing and thinking about art, and I can’t wait to witness and be a part of what’s next for arts journalism in the Twin Cities.
The Superscript Blog Mentorship program, a partnership with Hyperallergic, is presented as part of