Mentoring in the arts community is a valuable, but sometimes hidden asset that has helped countless artists find their footing professionally and personally. I spoke to three NE mentors:
, and one former
to get the low down on how mentoring works.
There are many different approaches to mentoring. Finding the right mentor requires careful consideration, and can lead a burgeoning artist to a path towards becoming a professional artist.
The Women's Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) has one of the most established and effective mentoring programs for women in the country. For more info:
visit the WARM website
Carolyn Halliday and Deborah Foutch (
NE artists and WARM mentors) explained that mentoring has a lot to do with sharing information. Mentors help a
protégé find her footing, build skills and confidence, connect to resources, and refine her work and how she talks about it. "Part of mentoring is learning about my
protégé's goals, passions and dealing with the potential letdown
of not succeeding when entering competitions or shows, or not getting the grant they applied for," remarked Carolyn.
to focus on one or two key ideas and clarifying her work, both visually and verbally, is an important part of Deborah's mentoring process. An artist needs to be open to what it is they are trying to do. Carolyn asks her
Are your ideas really being communicated through your work?" Her philosophy: "
You have to know what is inside your head and commit to knowing yourself."
Dougie Padilla focuses on an artist's spiritual and psychological challenges.
eaches meditation to help his students understand how the mind works, and to use that experience to move in a positive direction.
Dougie proclaims, "In America there is no formal ritual for boys to become men and girls to become women.
Your peer group is not a mentoring group: they are an echo chamber. We think we have the answers, but we do not have (a broad) perspective.
To move through the world you have to know the world." Dougie encourages his protégés to live outside of this country
before they reach the age of 28
. He explains that this helps young people become more mature as well develop other cultural perspectives. "Your world has to get bigger and it pushes you."
"The art world they are exposed to through art school is not the real art world," he contends. "
Art schools don't mentor: they tend to teach techniques.
The great blessing is suffering.
If you don't experience your suffering, you don't move.
One of my jobs as a mentor is to make it harder for my protégé to get to where they want to go, not to go in a direction I want them to go."
Annie Hejny confirmed that the
WARM Mentorship Program helped her set the foundation for her career and develop her own answers to her
big questions, such as: "How do I sustain and support myself as an artist, build a network of clients, and create presentations?" "School was practice," she says. "Now in real life it is the heat of the moment. I have to perform. I have learned the w
e cannot do this without (a supportive) community."
Any arts community can offer opportunities for artists to meet and get to know each other. That is just the beginning. Carolyn summed up the mentor/
protégé relationship well by stating that in order to be an effective mentor, "It takes a self-aware artist that wants to give back. That comes from a place of humility. Listening to other people's struggles affirms your own struggles. You have to be more interested in the other person than in yourself."
There is always a need for more artists to offer mentorships and apprenticeships for emerging artists. Thanks to the rich resource of mid-career artists working in the NE Arts District, our creative community will continue to grow and flourish.