Be out in the world and be comfortable with that,” internationally famous artist Sean J. Patrick Carney said. Carney dedicates his time, passion and artistic talents to working for nonprofit organizations.
Carney spoke at Elizabethtown College Monday, Oct. 16. He gave two different presentations: “Making the Nice a Bit Nicer: Management, Engagement and Contribution in the Non-Profit World” and “How to Move a Mountain.” The events were sponsored by the Bowers Writers House, which is directed by Jesse Waters.
Waters is a lecturer in English at Etown, and has taught in Pennsylvania and North Carolina for the past 15 years.
“English was one of the first things I experienced as a young person that I had an aptitude for,” Waters said. When he was three years old, he learned how to read. Waters deems that his profession relates “directly to my childhood interests,” he added.
“In college, you have four years to fall flat on your face,” Waters said. He encourages students to “take as many risks as possible because you have the safety net of being in a college environment.”
While at college, “you can determine what risks you are willing to take professionally and what risks you are not,” Waters said. It is vital to expand knowledge about the world and oneself during your four years of personal and professional development.
Some audience members were required to attend the presentation. However, some had other motives to attend the event.
First-year Nakita Edwards went to the lecture because she thought it would be interesting. It was also a class requirement. Sophomore Yusuf Chaudhry said that he went to the presentation because he liked how Carney combined art and nonprofits together to create tangible and intangible rewards.
Not only does he work as a visual artist, but Carney also works as a comedian, writer and teacher in New York. He is also the creator and director of Social Malpractice Publishing, which is an independent printing press. It has produced over 50 artist books. Carney’s pieces and performances have been showcased at various venues that are national and international.
Carney is the director of The Bruce High Quality Foundation University, (BHQFU). It was developed to provide a place for artists to work and collaborate while receiving free art education. He has also taught at other schools across the U.S. He currently writes for VICE and Art in America.
“In the 21st century with generations of people who are making a name for themselves, art serves as a place where people who otherwise might be marginalized can have their voices heard,” Carney explained.
He recognized that the world is not perfect. However, Carney’s experiences accentuate that “the people who make up the art community are committed to changing those imperfections,” he expanded.
The BHQFU was a school in New York that allowed various people to attend a wide variety of art-related classes for free. Every night, it had different classes. The school had an unlimited amount of students in each. There were roughly 6,000 or more students that attended BHQFU every year. There were fall and spring semesters and each semester brought a new set of classes.
“We rarely ever repeated the same class twice,” Carney said.
This organization was in business for eight years.
Carney and other associates of the program wanted students to have the freedom and right to express their ideas through art. This was based on the original Bruce High Quality Foundation, which was named after a fictional character.
He explained that really successful and compelling artists will have foundations created in their names after they die. However, this particular group chose not to follow this.
BHQFU is a satirical group of anonymous individuals who ridicule or disrupt famous artworks, which requires high level of knowledge on the piece and understanding its cultural context.
The belief that there are many different forms of art is held by Carney.
“Most people, including myself, when I was younger, think of traditional art as in a person in a studio painting,” he said. However, there is so much more to depth to art and its significance in modern culture.
Carney places equal significance on important books and prose as he does on television series and magazines.
“I believe that both of these have influenced my artwork,” Carney added.
Carney’s dedication to art continued even after BHQFU no longer remained as a physical place. Carney and another man created a program called 14+. This group worked to create a Chipakata Children’s Academy, where the children of Zambia receive a free art education.
Carney and his friends devoted ample time and energy to complete a fundraiser to provide the children with printing presses and supplies for their school.
14+ created a kickstarter to raise money. They also had famous artists and the children of Zambia make tiles that were unique. 14+ was able to make $52,745. The organization plans to go to Zambia to educate the teachers and children on how to properly use the printing press and supplies. Carney and the other 14+ members are thrilled to meet the children.
Carney’s best advice in regards to nonprofit work is to “diversify your funding sources and maintain a sense of humor.”