PDP Stories: Tom Virgin On Creating A PDP Alumni Community

2013 is a landmark year for Creative Capital—we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of our Professional Development Program! In that decade, we’ve worked with more than 5,900 artists in 170 communities. In honor of each of those artists, we present the new monthly series PDP Stories, in which we’ll share participants’ accounts of how we’ve impacted their careers and lives.

This month’s PDP story comes from  Tom Virgin, a Miami-based visual artist who has participated in several workshops including our 2007 Miami Core Workshop, 2009 Miami Advanced Core Workshop and 2010 & 2011 Miami Internet For Artists Workshops.

Tom Virgin, PDP alumnusSpring 2011: The Creative Capital Professional Development Program brought me from an earnest beginner to an earning artist. Although the concept of creating a practice with multiple legs of support did not come from Creative Capital, a detailed analysis of my practice that pointed out the strands that I was missing, overlooking or undervaluing did. At this point, teaching remains an important strand to my overall career, but changes in funding by local, state and federal institutions are pointing me towards more studio practice. I am in the process of updating three years of new work to my website in a open source WordPress structure.
What seems to me to be the most pivotal aspect of the program is the continued support of Creative Capital to all of us in Miami that have been through the program. The alumni are becoming a denser part of the fabric that comprises creative Miami, collaborating with each other and bringing new artists into the mix. The pressure of being “an artist” is lessened by the knowledge that I have several others looking out for my interests with e-mails, curatorial advice, exhibition opportunities and networking. I also lend my specific knowledge to others who, like me, don’t have time to do all the research on everything.
When I include a Creative Capital PDP colleague in anything, they improve the project and dig in. When former Director of ArtCenter South Florida, Chris Ingalls, was raving about a few of her artists in the summer of 2011 (Damien  Sarno, Hugo Moro and Natasha Duwin), I informed her that we are all alums of the same program. Later that summer, both Hugo’s and my own work were singled out by Anne Tschida as “gems” in a Miami Herald article about the 60th All Florida Show at the Boca Museum. It adds up. I especially appreciate the continued support because the more I learn, the more I realize I still need to know.
Fast forward to January 2013: Creative Capital alumni joined me for two shows in 2012. The first, By Hand, which I curated at ArtCenter South Florida, brought coverage again by Anne Tschida in the Miami Herald on both the show and positive changes to the  ArtCenter. The second show included ten Creative Capital PDP alums in a group of over 50 South Florida writers and visual artists in the SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration. A reading and discussion during the Miami Book Fair International and a post-Miami  Beach Art Basel panel of local experts moderated by Executive Director Alex Campos of the New York Center for Book Arts brought exposure to our community of collaborators. We are now proposing the SWEAT Exhibition to venues around the country. We work toward common goals and building community.
You can learn more about Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program at http://creative-capital.org/pdp.

More News & Stories