College for Creative Studies: Art Practice (Fine Arts)
One of the most important lessons that Heidi Barlow has learned as an artist is the importance of networking--getting to know other artists/designers who live and work in the "creative" community. And Detroit is the perfect place to start.
"It takes a very dedicated person to pursue a degree in fine arts and make it work," said Barlow, who works as a special events assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). "I see a lot of people that I graduated with not putting themselves out there and networking or going to art shows. I made the mistake of not doing that enough during my time in school. There is no excuse to not know what is going on in the city. There is an opening practically every weekend! To be a good artist is to know what is going on in your community. So my advice is to get out there!"
Barlow has also learned that "business and entrepreneurial skills" as well as confidence can take you a long way in the art world.
"I think it's really important to have the drive and passion to be in this field. It all comes down to you. You are the only person that has the ability to get yourself exactly where you want to be. As long as you are willing to work hard, you can achieve your goals."
While an artist herself, Barlow also works as a special events assistant at MOCAD. She first started working at the museum as an intern in May 2013 and was hired shortly after to assist with facility rental and to help organize special events (both internal and external).
"It's been interesting so far," she said. "I've really enjoyed helping plan fundraisers and other events for the Museum over the past year… Right now, we're getting ready for an exhibition opening on February 7 for James Lee Byars that will be great. I also had an opportunity to peek at our program guide for the upcoming spring. There are a lot of programs and events scheduled that I'm excited to see."
Through her position at MOCAD, Barlow has established some valuable connections within the local art community. But most of her insight stems from creating her own artwork.
"I create what I like to see," explained Barlow. "It's usually really colorful and stereotypically 'feminine.' I use pink a lot. I've been painting and doing sculptures, and I have been combining that into installation work. I usually have the end result in the back of my mind, how the work will look in a space and in conjunction to other works and how they could play off of each other. I tend to work on multiple pieces at a time; I can't just focus on one work. Most of the works that I create during a certain time period are intended to be viewed together.
"Showing more of my work is a goal of mine this year. I'm currently collaborating with a very good friend of mine for an art installation in Toronto, Canada, this June. I can’t give out many details as nothing has been completely finalized, and it is still in early stages. But if everything goes according to plan, it will be great. It will be similar to the show that she and I did together in August. I really enjoying collaborating with other creative people right now. I think having the ability to work with other artists is important."
In addition to Barlow's short-term goal of showing more work this year, the artist has also established long-term goals that she is currently working toward. She plans to earn an MFA and eventually acquire her own art space.
"Within the next five years, I plan to go to graduate school and earn my MFA," said Barlow. "I've been researching graduate schools since 2011, and I have a list of places I want to visit to start the next phase of planning for it. Another of my long-term goals is to eventually open my own art space--perhaps a studio or gallery space. There is a building in Detroit I've had my eye on for years now. If I have the opportunity to purchase it in the next five years, I will."
To check out more of Barlow's work, visit www.heidibarlow.com. Beyond her personal website, Barlow maintains a blog centered around research/documentation of the color pink. She started the blog a few years ago as part of her senior thesis and has continued it as part of her art practice www.pink-research.tumblr.com.