As an art lover, I feel as if “The Art of Making It” was made with me in mind. Kelcey Edwards‘ revealing documentary explores the steps that young artists must take to find success in a system that seems set up to ensure failure, especially for those without a standard pedigree. The film is designed to enlighten and sometimes anger with a behind-the-scenes look at today’s art world and a traditional system that’s inherently unfair to unknown, struggling artists.
Edwards focuses on several emerging artists with a wide range of styles who work with varying mediums, and those who are taking risks by agreeing to showcase their work by providing makeshift galleries. Each has a creative vision that deserves to be seen by the public, and the film gives them an additional platform for sharing their pieces. There are talking head interviews with art critics and professors, but the most eye-opening segments are discussions with the artists themselves.
The film reveals the judgment and arrogance that permeates the art field, especially when it comes to creators without an MFA degree. It’s an exclusive world where power brokers dictate whose work belongs and whose doesn’t. It’s biased and, as the documentary suggests, sometimes even sexist and racist, and there’s certainly a class system within the system. It’s a tough world for those brave enough to challenge the status quo, and maybe even tougher for those saddled with massive education loan debt.
There are some facts and figures presented that are interesting, like the sad reality that most museums are curated by an extremely small (and wealthy) number of private art collectors. Acquisitions and even prices are often dictated based on their tastes, and some turn their heads on works that challenge boundaries or present more diverse voices and talents.
The storytelling is disjointed and doesn’t flow smoothly, jumping around with a whirlwind of topics. They’re all interesting, but the structure is a mess.
The strongest element of the film touches on the ways the pandemic changed things, with the emergence of online viewing rooms that now give collectors the chance to buy directly from the artists. This puts the much-needed and appreciated money directly into the hands of the people who are creating the work instead of them being at the mercy of physical galleries and art dealers. Essentially, COVID eliminated the middle man.
This is the most compelling aspect of the film, and I wish more time had been devoted to this idea of a new art economy where galleries and dealers may no longer be necessary.
While it does bite off a bit more than it can chew topic-wise, “The Art of Making It” is an art doc that’s both educational and entertaining.
By: Louisa Moore