Joey Lico: Transnational artists exploring the concept of "Home"
Joey Lico is The Cultivist's Senior Director, with an extremely impressive CV that includes The New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Independent Curators International. For her Curation with SHOWFIELDS Joey has brought together a collection of artists whose works speak about the migrant experience and how it is a reshaping of culture, history and traditions, all negotiating between the concepts of place, belonging, and home.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice:
Many people are surprised to learn that my entry point to art is tied to political and philosophy—or what us philosophy majors would call: critical social theory. I’ve always understood artists as having a certain metanoia when it comes to the world and I believe that through art, we are able to encourage discourse around the most pressing matters of our time.
This to say, I’ve never had a traditional relationship with art and have thus had the privilege of a non-traditional art career. From working with The White House to now, working with The Cultivist, I’ve always aimed at creating inclusive programming and access to art, which centers around a dialogue.
Of course, artists need sales, but they also need platforms to speak about their work and to engage in meaningful discourse without the red tape that is propagated by antiquated systems of value or, worse, the language of commerce and commodity.
So in my practice, I’m always seeking the situations that give way to that.
What are your parameters for artist selection?
I wanted to bring together artists whose work asks questions about place. Artists who are living between two or more cultures, histories, nationalities, localities…and whose work creates space for these experiences.
What kind of artwork is relevant to our generation and the times we are living?
Relevancy is an objective perspective and a constant evolution—so I can’t answer this for a generation and, when people do, I think it’s a bit of a failure. I can certainly tell you what I personally find relevant in art, but my research and projects push against that. Who am I to tell anyone what art is relevant to an entire generation—when that generation is beautifully made up of different histories and circumstances?
I will offer that I hope in this moment, people are looking at what art is capable of beyond aesthetics. That we are in a moment where we encourage and support artists whose work is pointing a light on ideas or realities that have been, for too long, left out of the overarching canon of art history.
Tell us about this curation for SHOWFIELDS: conceptually, aesthetically, etc.?
I gravitate towards works that asks questions about place, home and belonging--but through the particular lens of artists who are transnational. I tend to work with artists who are pulling from a multiplicity of experiences and use their work to reconcile the challenges that are brought upon those of us that have been made to feel insecure about our identity or deemed “exotic” at one point or another. I wanted to invite artists whose work speaks to this--particularly in this moment where our current government is challenging us on our ideals of home. Bringing these voices together in some way—and creating a space, even a virtual one, for those of us that are constantly asked to negotiate our being.
(I very rarely choose works based on aesthetic—to me, that is design, not art. That’s not to say, the work doesn’t need to be formally good—it most certainly does.)
What is your advice for art lovers and appreciators looking to start their own art collections?
Hopefully, other curators have answered “buy what you love,” so I’ll add something else that is just as important: start your art journey and research for at least a year before you buy ANYTHING. Take the time to really look at art and learn as much as you can before committing, even if you’re super excited by something. It gives some buffer time for your taste to evolve. It allows you to hone in on what actually inspires you, not what the market is doing its best to convince you of.