Jenny Schumaker, a recent graduate of the School of Art and
Design, said she’s wanted to be an exhibitor in the Ann Arbor
Art Fair since she was a little girl. This year, with the help of
the University and the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, she and two other
student artists have finally gotten what they’ve always hoped
for.

Last week kicked off the third installment of the Street
Fair’s emerging artists’ booth, a program designed to
give University students experience and exposure. Sponsored by the
Street Fair and the art school, three student applicants are chosen
each year to exhibit in a booth alongside other artists in the
fair.

“The idea of the program is to give the students the
experience of marketing art towards their audience,” said
Shary Brown, executive director of the Street Fair.

Connie Shea, a recent graduate of the art school and an
“emerging artist” in the fair, said she knew art fair
exhibition would be a change from anything she had done before.

“I’ve been in gallery shows before, but I think this
is going to be completely different. At the art fair, more people
are looking to buy art, but at a gallery people are just looking at
art,” Shea said.

Shea, a fibers major, displayed wall hangings that had been
hand-woven on a loom. The pieces included wool, metal fiber and
other materials that varied in texture and size. Shea said pricing
the pieces was at times more difficult than making them.

“Pricing is really hard, actually. I have some experience
from being in galleries, but basically it comes down to what
I’d pay for the piece if I were a buyer,” she said.

Brown said that unlike gallery exhibition or other art fairs,
the Ann Arbor art fair offers an audience and prestige that few
other venues can boast. With that much attention, the student
artists said it can be nerve-wracking deciding the size, selection
and price range of their art.

“I worried a lot about how much to have of everything, and
it turned out I should have had more of some, less of
others,” said Schumaker of her hand-beaded jewelry.

Carolyn Logsdon, a ceramics major, also said she worried about
selection.

“The art fair helped me get an idea of things people want
to buy,” Logsdon said. “Function is important. Some
people want something they can drink out of, so a tippy vessel
scares those people away.”

The art fair provided an opportunity to learn what buyers want,
but also to talk to other artists in the field. For Logsdon,
talking to other artists convinced her that being in art fairs all
summer could be the right career move.

“Some older artists were tired of (art fairs), of not
being as settled as they wanted to be. But others were so excited
to be creating their own art and traveling from place to place,
meeting new people — those people were so inspiring,”
Logsdon said.

Schumaker said she too enjoyed talking with artists in the
field, though she said she doesn’t think a summer of art
fairs is what suits her best.

“It was good talking to people who already had the
knowledge but wanted to know how I made my art,” she said.
“Meeting other artists was great, and I think I’ll
apply again next year. But it was way too grueling to be a
full-time job.”

And for anyone who doesn’t think it’s exhausting to
be an exhibitor, just imagine Logsdon hauling her pottery from her
booth near the Michigan League to a van six blocks away, twice a
day.

“In that sense, it’s really nice to be done,”
Logsdon said. “That made me wish I did
photography.”

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