Legacy is the long-lasting impact you leave on the world. For those of us in the arts community that might mean art works, accomplishment in art advocacy, discoveries of new techniques.
We are remembered by those who know us and live after, but how is it preserved in other more concrete ways? I am going to concentrate on the visual arts and a body of art works.
Archiving your 2 and 3-D art means documentation and that is a constant challenge of changing technology. An inventory systems used to mean means photos, transparencies and slides then digital on floppies, cd, flash drives and now stored in the cloud. It is an enormous amount of work to capture true images and adding size, medium, year, location, owner. I might just wait until the is a voice recognition AI system. A catalogue raisonné is never complete until you are no longer making new work.
But just recording label details does not give a context for the work. The relevant history might include what was happening in the news at the time of creation, who did you know personally that encourage your career, or how the community and your location affected the art could be just as important. Saving books, catalogues, invitation cards, price list, sales invoice, and audio and video recordings could add to the story.
Part of a final legacy could be a retrospective exhibition. The right time for that could vary from person to person and depending on your reputation. A curator could help an audience see older work is a new perspective. Borrowing work from client has advantages and disadvantage. Your collector might feel that it increases the prestige of their collection to have work they owned included. The work might have to be cleaned, crated, shipped and insured, all very expensive operations.
One of the biggest hurdles of a legacy is what happens to unsold work. Who inherits the work and will they value it. Giving art away to individuals means you have to find out what they want instead of deciding for them. Arts Institution that have permanent collections and want your work are not so easy to find unless you are famous or can provide finances for storage in perpetuity.
If you have the money, one solution is to form an Artist’s Foundation or leave money in your will for this to happen with an appointed administrator. This could be a family member or an art professional. Besides climate controlled storage, the foundation has to be funded for promotion, preservation, restoration, and curation.
Besides my art work, I have other forms of legacy to consider: my role in restarting of the County of SD
Commission of Culture, founder and coordinator of San Diego Visual Arts Network,
years and years of blogs and art reporting, and presenter of the prestigious SD
What is your legacy? Are you an Art Activist or one that bears witness to truths? Are you an Artist Philanthropist when you give your art to worthy causes. Or maybe you are a be here now sort of person, who is happy to let the cards fall where they may.