At Benefit v.15, Win Back Your Space with our annual silent art auction and fundraiser. All the elements for transforming your space – personal, office, or otherwise – are yours for the bidding. Young Professionals Night on Friday, February 6 at Crane Arts introduces guests to the importance of participating in the arts economy. Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is just one of 24 groups that will be joining InLiquid to talk about the importance of getting engaged, and staying invested, in Philadelphia’s cultural institutions. Darla Jackson, Owner and General Manager of PSG, discusses the benefits of joining a community space for emerging artists in an interview below.
Can you tell me more about the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym?
The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is a community-based workshop space that operates like a gym membership. A monthly membership gives members access to a wood shop, metal shop, jewelry shop, forging area, ceramics area and a mold making and casting area. We also offer classes for all skill levels in processes such as welding, woodworking, mold making, taxidermy…and more! We also have storage and studio spaces, as well as “personal training” (or one-on-one training sessions) with our experts. The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym was started in 2011 with an Arts Challenge Grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
What is your role there?
I am the owner and founder, so I do a little bit of everything! I also teach classes in metal working, clay sculpture, mold making and casting.
Do you have any exciting workshops or classes coming up?
Yes! We have been doing a monthly special workshop and this month it is a woodcarving workshop with Roger Wing, where participants will learn carving basics like carving techniques and chisel sharpening. For February it is a Taxidermy Valentine workshop with Beth Beverly, where you’ll be using raccoon baculum to create wearable charms. And of course I am always excited about anything that involves forging or metal casting!
Can you tell me more about the member benefits?
Members have access to the shop spaces, which includes a wood shop, metal shop, jewelry studio, and mold making and casting area. Members also get 10% off of all workshops and classes and free entry into all juried exhibitions in PSG Gallery. Access to the community of other members is also a great benefit because people share knowledge that has taken them years to compile…that has been my favorite part about this so far, the sharing of information that otherwise you’d be in a studio learning on your own.
How can being a member of a space like the Sculpture Gym help a young artist learn to navigate the local arts community better?
Being part of a community of artists at the beginning of your career takes a lot of the guesswork out of certain things…you have someone to ask questions like: Where is the best place to buy materials? What is the best way to build (insert project of choice here)? How do I learn more about (insert process of choice here)? Chances are someone here has bought what you need (and knows where to get it better or cheaper), has built something similar to what you are building (and has advice to offer about mistakes they made) and has done the process that you want to learn about (and can tell you more than you ever thought to ask about it). This knowledge is an invaluable resource for a young artist to have as it is the result of years of trial and error and time in the studio. Members also recommend job opportunities and commissions to one another and other things of that nature. Any time someone comes to me with an opportunity, I share it with our members.
Is there a value to young professionals participating in the arts economy, and becoming collectors themselves?
Absolutely. The arts need supporters, that is a given. But I think when people start collecting the work of local artists at a young age, it has the potential to grow into a lifelong relationship. Putting money back into your local economy through supporting an artist can make a huge impact in both the local arts community and in the life of that particular artist. Having collectors support me throughout my career by purchasing my work has been a big part of me being able to keep the Sculpture Gym going in these first few years we’ve been open. The space itself is supported by grants from the Knight Foundation and by membership and workshop income but I am not. So this type of support of my work by collectors means a great deal to me as both an artist and as a small business owner, as its allowed me to pursue multiple projects that benefit both myself and the community.
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s Young Professionals Night?
I love a good bidding war so I’m a huge fan of talking to people about which artwork they have their eye on. This is one of my favorite events of the year because the auction supports both Inliquid and the artists who donated, so its a win win!
Meet, mingle, and network with Philadelphia Sculpture Gym and other young professionals groups at Young Professionals Night on Friday, February 6, or join us at Benefit v.15 on Saturday, February 7.