5 With: Rachel Jendrzejewski

January 2, 2014

Happy 2014! One thing that made the past year particularly satisfying for me was community-- meeting new people, forming unlikely collaborations, starting conversations, seeing art that wasn't my usual post-modern dance. I was reminded of the wealth of resources that exist for creative people in the Twin Cities. The biggest resource we have, though, is one another; I've learned so much from creatives working in fields different from my own-- poets, graphic designers, photographers. Unsurprisingly, we share many of the same challenges, and have a great deal of collective wisdom. This year, twice a month, I'm sharing mini-interviews with Twin Cities creative folk, where they answer five questions (or share five survival tactics) in just 300 words. I'm especially excited to discuss the less comfortable topics of fear and vulnerability, and hear a variety of perspectives on money making and growth.

Today's interview is with playwright and interdisciplinary artist Rachel Jendrzejewski. I enormously admire Rachel's work, and how actively she pursues her art practice, from writing about what she sees, to creating performance experiments in restaurants. Her advice is top-notch. You can follow Rachel's blog over here, or find her on twitter

What do you make or do? I write plays and collaborate with other artists to explore new performance-making processes and forms. I get excited about earnest experimentation! following bliss! hard questions! art as awareness practice! community collaboration! 

What's hard about it? The hard part, of course, is figuring out how to exist in this culture and economy, a problem that makes me tired (literally).

What has been helpful? Overall, I try to allow the realities, feelings, and consequences of our system to be part of the things I make and to drive the imagining of new structures—not unlike how HIJACK recently described, in a post-show talk, “amplifying and repeating problems until they become the meat.” 

In the day-to-day, though, here are some survival tactics I’ve found useful:
Combine part-time and freelance work. I currently spend 20 hrs/week with Upstream Arts, an extraordinary organization. I still have time and energy to develop my own work, filling out my income through artistic fees, grants, fellowships, teaching, and freelance writing for other artists and organizations.

Barter. It’s so gratifying to cut money out of the equation whenever possible. Even if you’re a performance artist (I envy my friend who cuts hair), you have plenty to offer—childcare is a common steady need, for example.

Spend time alone. Amidst the runaround, we often neglect to carve out this time, but it’s important for keeping perspective. Strive to know and love thyself.

Spend time with people you admire. Artists and non-artists alike. Seek them out, observe them, volunteer for them, collaborate with them, endure time together.

Dream big. Sounds obvious, yet it can be much easier to name injustice than to really envision hope. When I feel lost, I like to make big lists of things that matter to me. Sometimes it leads to brainstorming next steps; at the very least, it’s grounding.

[You can read more interviews over here.]


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