Altered Institutions

PROJEXx Studio and Gallery. Johnson City, TN

Here we present the third in our series reports from the “Outer Regions: Roundtables and Public Panel Discussion,” a two-day event held at Eastern Tennessee State University, March 1-3, 2013. The symposium was organized by Vanessa Mayoraz and Andrew Ross to explore the ramifications, and potential benefits, of artistic practice outside of major metropolitan art centers. The roundtable participants included: Emma Balazs (Columbia University), Sarrita Hunn (Temporary Art Review), Adelheid Mers (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Joey Orr (Emory University) and ETSU faculty and students.

This audio essay focuses on the third roundtable discussion titled, “Altered Institutions.” In this discussion, the regular participants were joined by Nikki Hamblin, founder of PROJEXx Studio and Gallery in Johnson City, TN, which will hold its final closing event this Saturday, April 27th.

[01:45] Andrew Scott Ross introduces the roundtable discussion. Questions for the roundtable include: Have you witnessed innovative institutions that are benefiting artists that live outside the main art hubs? Have museums, art schools, residencies, or grant-giving organizations changed in their support of artists living at a distance from the main city centers? Do you have an example of a successful alternative institution created outside the main art hubs by artists/curators/collectives that take on an interesting cultural mission?

[01:10] Nikki Hamblin introduces PROJEXx Studio and Gallery.

[05:30] Nikki discusses PROJEXx’s transition from two different storefront spaces downtown to its current house on Walnut Street.


[03:35] Andrew asks if “multi-purposing” is a common model for artist-run spaces and what other examples might exist. Sarrita Hunn mentions Christine Wong Yap‘s recent blog post, “What Artists Make Happen” (see diagram above). Nikki expands on the topic.

[03:25] Andrew and Nikki discuss some advantages of working in smaller cities.

[04:30] Andrew asks if there are trends in major institutions dedicating funding to projects outside of major metropolises and mentions Apex Art’s Franchise Program, which specifically, “is an open call for 500-word proposals for group shows that take place anywhere in the world outside of New York City.” [Applications are due May 3] Joey Orr discusses the Working Artist Project at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA), an exhibition, studio apprentice, and major stipend awarded to three Atlanta visual artists each year.

[02:45] Nikki shares on the value of a “fresh perspective.” This anecdote illustrates nicely the concepts discussed in our second essay in this series by Adelheid Mers, “Reading Vilém Flusser in North America: Self-made, Do-it-yourself and Doing-it-together,” which plots an individual’s path through aesthetic transformation as it happens in response to new experiences.

Projexx closing party – 5 visual artists, 6 performance artists and 7 bands

Stay tuned for our final essay in this series to be published shortly.

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