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New York City-based charity, Chashama, which transforms unused real estate into studio and exhibition spaces for local artists, has teamed up with esteemed commercial photographer and artist Katie Fischer for a show in the lobby of the Conde Nast building. “Chashama Studio Artists” features 15 of the artists currently using studios provided by the organization, and will run through November 3. Whitewall spoke to Fischer about her curatorial debut and practice, and her interest in the charity.
WHITEWALL: You’re primarily a photographer and artist, what has been your prior experience curating?
KATIE FISCHER: This has been my first experience curating but I’m very involved with Independent Curators International invite-only group Independents, which is for cultural influencers and those actively connected to the contemporary art world. They offer insights into new approaches to contemporary art and culture by connecting with emerging and established curators, artists, collectors and leading figures in the art world through public programs, exhibitions and educational intensives. I’m always looking to promote emerging artists, [and] Chashama was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
WW: How do you feel that your artistic practice informs your curatorial decisions?
KF: I conduct a rigorous practice in conceptual art. Everything starts in the mind and I’m always fighting to push myself further. I am an intensely passionate person so I’m compelled by others’ work that personifies that same vigor and intensity. I’m always drawn to artists and everyone else in my life who possess [this] passion. I can’t connect to people on a deep level who don’t share a certain intensity, and by default I’m only drawn to artwork that reflects this.
WW: How did you get involved with Chashama?
KF: I met Anita, founder of at an event for NYFA, and we clicked immediately. When I met [her] I had been living and working in New York City for years. In many European countries, artists are supported through government; New York artists have largely not enjoyed comparable financial support, housing assistance, or affordable health care. This makes it incredibly hard on the artist to not only survive but to flourish creatively. Thus many artists are being pushed out of New York City and setting up in smaller, more affordable communities. I really feel Chashama fights against this trend by offering support to artists in a very significant way. The mission really spoke to me and we instantly began working together. [Since], I have supported Chashama by chairing last year’s gala as well as their upcoming 20th anniversary gala.
WW: What was it like working with Chashama’s Programing director Janusz Jaworski on the project?
KF: He was a great tour guide through the studios Anita provides to artists. The first two times I visited the studios, Anita came with me. She finds giant commercial buildings that are not being used in the New York area and creates individual studios within. Due to the scale of the buildings there are up to 93 studios in one location so if you’re visiting it can be confusing to navigate.
WW: Chashama provides studio space for over 125 artists, how did you decide to feature the 15 artists represented in the show?
KF: I heard a quote that went something like “If you’re not being born, you’re dying.” This theme is intrinsic to my being. I knew I wanted to do a show about this it. I really wanted this show to be about transformation through movement and rebirth. Coincidentally the show is all female artists.