Theses Doctoral

Logistics of Space, Material, and Time: Struggles and Strategies for Sustaining Art Practice

Park, Kwan Taeck

This research examines how artists sustain their art practice in real-life situations, despite ongoing struggles, by developing strategies that befit individual circumstances. The research originates from the reality that many young artists give up their careers due to difficulties in finding a balance between art making, living, and money-making. However, there are exceptional cases in which artists have managed to maintain their active art practice despite facing similarly difficult situations. This research began with questioning what made them different and how they acquired such differences. By setting space, material, and time as the basic elements for art making, I researched four New York based artists who have not been able to live solely on their art, therefore have had to locate other sources of income through non-art or art-related activities.

This research employs a qualitative case study approach. Accepting the impossibility of coming up with universal answers to solving the precarity in an artist’s life, I chose to investigate individual cases in an in-depth manner. I collected data through interviews over multiple sessions to elucidate each artist’s perspective on their lives and the nature of an artist’s life.

This research reveals that three basic elements—space, material, and time—are not fixed, unnegotiable conditions for art making for the participants. Rather, these artists flexibly handle these three elements depending on their given circumstances by integrating the availability of certain elements with their art practice. In so doing, the artists tend to take limitations and constraints not merely as a barrier to overcome but more as a source of creativity to enhance the uniqueness of their art practice. Overall, the artists are familiar with the constant mode of learning for the unclear path of an artist’s career.

Although the outcome of this research cannot be generalized to encompass every artist’s career, it can be of benefit to many struggling artists who have yet to figure out their own way of sustaining their practice. Also, this research can be helpful for college-level art teachers and school administrators in preparing their educational curricula to meet the practical needs of their students who dream of becoming artists as their life’s work.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Hafeli, Mary Claire
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 13, 2020