In the third and final segment of our three-part conversation between Center Visiting Artist Ain Gordon and Center Executive Director Paula Marincola, Gordon gives us a glimpse of his role as collaborator, entering ongoing conversations at the Center and proposing alternative possibilities for our approach to our work. Thanks to an active role in several ongoing Center programs, he has offered his unique point of view to the benefit of Center staff and constituents. “Certainly [the Center] can’t do everything for everyone,” he says, speaking to a grantmaker’s impact. “Certainly we have a strategic agenda. But that doesn’t preclude us from being open to conversation.”
Paula Marincola: You have a very valuable ability to think across disciplines in that way, to understand the larger concepts that are under-girding a specific conversation around a specific discipline, and to then export that across the conversation. And that is something that is also my task as executive director. You have been a great thinking partner for me in regards to my own work.
Ain Gordon: I’m a text-based artist; I’m a writer. So people and words are what matter to me and what I attach to. I have some skill at both seeing and hearing the staff here and knowing the intentions underneath words that are not sometimes the best words to use with an artist—and, likewise, an artist choosing words that may not “speak” to the staff.
PM: You were really helpful to the Pew Fellowships program director, in thinking through the Center’s relationship with the Pew Fellows.
AG: We had a whole conversation about what happens to you as an artist when you are taken up by someone—when you get a champion, a venue, a commission, a grant. However, you know that you will be re-dropped into the chaos of your regular pool at the end of that engagement or grant, etc. We talked about what the relationship could look like if there were multiple other outcomes beyond being given an infusion of money. The notion that you were in a multi-tiered support structure for a longer period of time—that you had that constancy wrapping around your peripatetic working life—and what that does to your work. That level of engagement.