Sean J Patrick Carney, undergraduate admissions coordinator for the Department of Art and Art History in the UT College of Fine Arts, has received a $30,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for a writing project he has proposed.
In addition to recruiting new students for the college’s undergraduate programs in Studio Art, Art History and Art Education, Carney is an artist and writer whose research focuses on the relationship between contemporary art and comedy.
Carney plans to use the grant to produce a series of short-form articles for Art in America magazine and other outlets examining the state of DIY artist warehouse collectives in the Western United States in the wake of two significant events: the tragic 2016 fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, and the birth of the legalized recreational marijuana industry.
The pieces, which will be published in 2020, will further look at the relationships between these artist groups, gentrification, the commercial real estate market and the creative tech industry. While artist collectives are important breeding grounds for anarchic, experimental culture, Carney will explore how the makeup of their participants, and the influence of capital, can sometimes instead reinforce existing power structures.
The first part of the series will explore the history and role of DIY artist warehouse culture since the 1990s. In addition to exploring the layered motivations that landlords and municipal governments have for shuttering these often-illegal, sometimes physically-unsafe live/work venues, Carney will take a nuanced look at the spaces themselves: They may be cheap to operate, but can easily raise the profile (and rents) of the neighborhoods where they exist.
Later articles in the series will explore an unlikely contemporary antagonist beyond the greedy landlord or local fire marshal: large-scale marijuana growers in states where it has been legalized. Commercial indoor marijuana growth operations require a massive physical footprint, making disused urban warehouse spaces—the type that artists have historically repurposed as studios and venues—attractive and lucrative sites.
Carney is a frequent contributor to Art in America, and his writing has also appeared in VICE, artnet news, Glasstire and FOUNDATIONS, among others. Previously, he was a co-director and faculty member at The Bruce High Quality Foundation University in New York. Since 2009, he has operated an independent artist book distribution label, Social Malpractice Publishing. His podcast on contemporary art and comedy, Humor and the Abject, has received a grant from Rhizome and a Creators Residency at Kickstarter.