Disrupting The Current State Of The Art World With Artist Alliance Incubatee Pia Truscott

Pia Truscott is a Cape Town-based abstract artist now studying in her third year at Michaelis School of Fine Art. Growing up next to the Newlands Forest instilled in her a love for nature and a sense of connection to it, which she incorporates into her art as one of the key themes. Our interactions and connectivity with nature, people, and objects inspire her, and as a curator too, one of her goals is to bring people together via art exhibitions by making them more participatory and accessible. Constantly looking for ways to create more prompted her to start an exhibition platform with a friend called Connecting Through Creativity. Her work is lively, colourful, and engaging. She reinforces the idea that there are no constraints in art by regularly using recycled materials from scrap yards, or diving in friends’ recycling bins, her work poses the question: Why are art supplies so expensive?

“I often feel like my works are like verbs because they’re always moving and they’re always doing something. I want to make work that people can touch and feel and interact with,” she adds. “I don’t want art that’s like, with deep meanings, I think I’m trying to make art universal for everyone. I want to invite people in and like, make them feel welcome.”

What are some of your highlights from the Artist Alliance Incubation program?

This has been an incredible opportunity for these bunch of creative people to come together, and honestly, it feels like we are a family. It’s been so supportive, and I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from that is that, like, they really encouraged us to be ourselves and not let fear hold us back because you never know until you try. I think it’s just been a very loving and supportive environment. I sort of like other people believing in us and like pushing us to go one step further.”

Tell me more about the program and commercializing your art, and building a brand.

“Well, I think it’s really amazing. I think the one critique I have of a lot of art education systems is that we’re not told as creatives how to actually make an impact and make money, and I think it’s always been my mission of, like; how do we actually be artists and also have a reliable income and make profits? I think for the first time, I’m in a program where I’m actually being told very practical steps to sort of make my creative dreams come true, and I haven’t been taught that throughout high school or at Michaelis. I think it’s inspiring me to sort of change up the systems that they have. All art institutions should be talking very honestly about how we market ourselves in the digital age. I think Storm has been really amazing, helping me sort of develop my idea and giving me insight into what it means to be a curator.” 

What are your aspirations and hopes for the art sector in South Africa? What do you believe is missing right now, and what would you like to see more of in the near future?

“I think there’s a need to decolonize the art world in a big way, and I think we need to take a step away from the white cube, and like these white gallery spaces. I think collaborations are going to be one of the most important things and supporting one another, working like in groups rather than being like solo artists. I think one thing that is missing is that I want our space to become more accessible and more interactive. My dream is to really host some interactive art exhibitions where everyone feels welcome, where they participate rather than just being passive viewers. I want our art space to be playful and vibrant and fun.”

I’ve been to many exhibitions, and there’s always that accessibility factor. Many people find it difficult to relate and engage within the art space as it’s targeted towards a very narrow demographic. It’s amazing that you’re confronting that notion and exploring how to improve things, because art is so important for the culture, even more, it’s critical for those spaces to be welcoming, because artists come and create from various walks of life.

“Yeah, like, I want to flip the art space upside down, and draw all over it. I’ve been thinking a lot about being a white curator, what that means, now’s the time where I think other voices need to be heard more. My whole feeling is that I want to facilitate other people like taking the stage, creating a space to let those kinds of things unfold. I’d just like to let a lot of different and emerging voices sort of go into that.”

*Responses edited for size and readability

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