4/25: Just back from the Bay Area, where I was honored to be a part of Valuing Labor in the Arts, a practicum organized by the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley together with the brilliant Helena Keeffe. I’ll be writing about the event for an upcoming issue of Art Practical, and there will probably be video of my talk at some point, but until then you can read a few essays and workshop prompts in an earlier issue, and I’ll leave you with a little moment that was one of my favorites: Living genius Yasmin and Calicopie provided lunch and hors d’oeuvres. In the evening, little signs marked each of the small bites; one read, “EMPLOYMENT: Union-picked organic strawberries / Walmart banana cream”. Another, “EXPLOITATION: spicy corporate slaughterhouse chicken processed with minimum wage labor”. We stood around, drank from disposable glasses of wine, chatted, agreed that the food was amazing. Later, we all sat ourselves around banquet tables for an evening of talks, and Yasmin spoke very shortly about the night’s catering. She talked about parallels between the invisibility of labor in art and in food production, about the ways that aesthetics can disguise the conditions of production. She talked about the berries, and then about the chicken: “The chicken tonight is actually from Kentucky Fried Chicken, which pays its workers $7.63 an hour on average. Even managers only make $10.89, but they gross 4.22 billion dollars a year.” In a video from the event, she needs to pause after she says “Kentucky Fried Chicken”; there are audible gasps from the audience, muttering. Yasmin closed with a smile, saying, “it’s just an opportunity for you to.. kind of.. explore and enjoy these things.” The audience laughed, and later I overheard one woman reassure another: “Oh, she couldn’t possibly have gotten KFC in here. They’re very strict about outside catering.” It seemed to make both of them feel better.

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8/14: To be honest arriving at ASA to see a big ol’ blown up version of the book cover at the Stanford booth was pretty exciting. As are the blurbs I got to read:

The Work of Art offers an intimate investigation of the economics of earning a living making art: where the money comes from and where it goes, and how artists justify, to themselves and others, their strategies for supporting their work. Alison Gerber makes a solid contribution to sociology, to economics, and to our understanding of the practicalities of an artistic career.”

—Howard S. Becker, author of Art Worlds

“Alison Gerber’s The Work of Art is a welcome treatment of how artists develop their self-conceptions and their production practices. This account expands our insight into a cutting edge area of economic and cultural sociology, examining the art world where questions of valuation and good work are highly salient, and provides an exciting approach to how material objects are given value. Personal and powerful, Gerber’s work will alter how those who care about the lives of artists think about the role of money and identity in the creative process.”

—Gary Alan Fine, author of Everyday Genius

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8/13: There’s a version of my talk about cultural fields, binarism, and gravity (sans janky animations) over at SocArXiv. Thanks much to great audiences at ASA and ESOOW; more conversations now and forevermore very much welcome.

7/21: Two midsummer notes:

In August I’ll be in Montreal with the rest of the North American wing of the discipline. I’ll be presenting on the regular program on Saturday at 8:30 at a panel on Art & Money in Creative Living, and at the Economic Sociology / Organizations, Occupations, and Work preconference at 10:15 on Friday. I’ll also be rushing around at the Economic Sociology roundtables at 8:30 on Sunday, as Emily Barman and I organized ’em. Hope to see you in Montreal.

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In November plans are coming together for a miniature “book tour” and a couple of related talks, workshops, + seminars on new work up and down the East Coast, starting November 7 at Yale. Holler at me if you want me to come and wave my new book around or workshop a messy new paper with you!

6/13: It is happening (now with cover).

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6/1: Just out in the new issue of Cultural Sociology: an article from Clayton Childress and I on making vs. doing and thinking beyond price in the arts. Check it out.

5/24: Page proofs. It’s happening.

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4/2: Uploaded a new working paper over at SocArxiv. Thanks again to the SocArxiv team for making this great repository happen.

3/31: I was surprised to find that my book happened on Amazon the other day, complete with twitter-egg cover image. I’m guessing this is what happens when the publisher registers the ISBNs? In any case, it’s happening…

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3/15: Continues to be forthcoming.

“The Economic World Obverse: Freedom through markets after arts education,” also with Childress but this time in American Behavioral Scientist, hitting your screen and zotero library soon.

1/26: Is forthcoming.

“I Don’t Make Objects, I Make Projects: Selling Things and Selling Selves in Contemporary Artmaking.” With Childress in Cultural Sociology, hitting your screen and zotero library soon.