Wischful Thinking Productions recently released the documentary, THE ART OF MAKING IT, a revealing exploration into what it takes to succeed as a young artist in today’s tumultuous art world. The film is a feature-length debut by filmmaker Kelcey Edwards and is produced by Debi Wisch. It features renowned artists (as subjects) such as Jenna Gribbon, Chris Watts, and Hilde Lynn Helphenstein. It recently had its world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival and was initially screened at DOC NYC on November 13. 

“We now have more people in the world who call themselves artists than we ever have had before in the history of human time. ” – curator and writer, Helen Molesworth

Against the backdrop of a culture in crisis, THE ART OF MAKING IT follows a diverse cast of young artists at defining moments in their careers to explore whether the art world ecosystem meant to nurture them is actually failing them. Are we at risk of losing the creative voices of a new generation as universities, galleries, and museums face cataclysmic changes? Or, are we on the verge of recreating outdated modes of experiencing art to make it accessible to all?

Artist Jenna Gribbon as seen in Kelcey Edwards’ documentary, The Art of Making it. Image courtesy of Wischful Thinking Productions

The film successfully highlighted the dangers of the art world and the dangers of it potentially marginalizing the very voices it was intended to illuminate. It was able to bring essential unspoken issues to the surface in a way that was both relieving and necessary. The determination and ambition of artists grasping to make their presence known in an industry that caters to elitists. Getting to hear from MFA professors, in regards to why artists like Chris Watts were “thrown out” of Yale’s MFA program. Not to mention hearing a personal interview from renowned professor and art critic, Dave Hickey, “I am just overcome with the tedium of the art world.”

Artist Chris Watts as seen in Kelcey Edwards’ documentary, The Art of Making it. Image courtesy of Wischful Thinking Productions

Embracing the conundrum of how artists must be in the market yet not of it the documentary is both a cautionary tale about what America stands to lose if we don’t rethink what we value and why and a love letter to those who persevere in their artistic practice in spite of the extraordinary odds against ever achieving commercial success. An illuminating documentary follows a talented group of emerging artists to expose an art world ecosystem in need of reinvention.

Artist Gisela McDaniel as seen in Kelcey Edwards’ documentary, The Art of Making it. Image courtesy of Wischful Thinking Productions

“THE ART OF MAKING IT” was directed by Kelcey Edwards and produced by Debi Wisch. Co-producers are Allison Berg and Susan Norget. Executive producers are Regina K. Scully, Mara Burros Sandler, Andrew Mer and George Wells. Editor: Nyneve Laura Minnear. Co-Editor: Inés Vogelfang. Cinematographer: Sebastian Lasaosa Rogers. Composer: Troy Herion. Featuring: Felipe Baeza, Andrea Bowers, Lisa Corinne Davis, Charles Gaines, César García-Alvarez, Marc Glimcher, Jenna Gribbon, Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, Gisela McDaniel, Helen Molesworth, Anne Pasternak, Jerry Saltz, Stefan Simchowitz, Chris Watts, and more.


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