Success as a Professional Artist: Insights from Edison Peñafiel and Christian Viveros-Fauné

Installation artist Edison Peñafiel and University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum curator-at-large Christian Viveros-Fauné met with visiting curator Jonell Logan on Facebook Live for a Creative Shifts conversation. We virtually visited Peñafiel’s studio and gained advice (from both the artist and curators) for artists who are experiencing changes and opportunities in their plans due to the pandemic.

Take advantage of virtual opportunities.

Even though COVID-19 restrictions have caused many opportunities for artists and art enthusiasts to be cancelled, they have also opened the door for many opportunities that were not possible before. “The idea of what a museum is today is vastly different than what it was in December of 2019,” says Viveros-Fauné, revealing a positive side to how we now view art. Because many museums have temporarily closed to in-person guests, those who visit virtually are challenged to imagine themselves in the space and truly think about what the museum and the art within the walls have to offer. “We’ve all had to basically sort of reimagine, not the space of the museum, but the mission of the museum in those intervening months,” he adds.

A positive opportunity for artists emerges from this virtual access: global exposure. Peñafiel digitized his recent exhibition. Though it was a hard transition, Peñafiel reflects on “all of these opportunities that these types of exhibitions have created” and how his artwork has benefitted from the current restrictions. “People all around the world are seeing this which wasn’t available before,” he says about his now-digitized collection. This shift presents an opportunity for Peñafiel and other artists to continue to grow their networks, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Watch the discussion below and view Edison Peñafiel’s work in Life During Wartime, curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné.