My feelings on the art world and the world in general after Miami Art Week:
I left Miami yesterday feeling extremely disheartened and disappointed. Not because my shows or exhibitions were unsuccessful; rather because I observed things within the art world and within the nature of human behavior that I personally find troubling. Everyone keeps asking me about my solo exhibition, ‘Just Breathe’, and having had a couple of days to digest it, my feelings are as follows – it was amazing and went exactly as it was supposed to go.
This Art Basel (really, it’s Miami Art Week and people just refer to it as Art Basel) taught me a lot of lessons.
I work hard all day, every day, pouring hundreds of hours into each artwork I create and tons of money trying to create a brand experience for my customers that in my opinion is a lost art. I do my best to be an honest and good businesswoman and person and to promote a positive message and I go home from Miami Art Week crying, not because I’m sad over mourning the second anniversary of my friend’s passing but because I see just how fake this world and the art world are. These are not new lessons for me. The problem is that I am now internally struggling with my participation in it all.
This week, 110 people found the need to share a video of me in a sheer top. In all my experience on social media – sharing beautiful artwork creations, spreading positive messages, winning major awards, even my incredible children – not a single photo or video has ever been shared 110 times. Not even close. And what’s ironic is that no one says anything to my face. I realize it’s just behind my back as I analyze all my social media stats to see what’s really going on on the backend. Clearly, my plastic surgeon is a much better artist than I am or something. At the very least, I hope I get him some business. I’m sure people will say if you don’t want people to hit on you, don’t dress that way. F that. There is absolutely no reason I shouldn’t be able to dress sexy without people thinking I’m looking to sell my body. I’m allowed and entitled to look and feel sexy.
That same night, I watched the MOST RIDICULOUS spectacle I saw all week – a hyped up art activation by someone famous. Something that required ZERO skill, had zero inspiration, and zero intention, yet there were HUNDREDS of people and cameras cheering this behavior on. Literally all the camera crews flung to the action like Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. I’m not even kidding. And this artist sells their work for tons of money. And I’m not supposed to say any of this because it will make ME look bad and I’ll make enemies.
Still that same evening, I decided to let my team manage my art at the show so I could grab a bite to eat at the bar as I hadn’t eaten all day and I also needed a moment to myself. The second I walked up, I got accosted by 3 bankers and 1 boxer who aggressively hit on me as I approached the bar, one of whom literally said to me that ‘they wanted to choke me against a wall’. I can’t make that up. When I barked back saying how inappropriate that was and how I have dignity and he needs to have some respect, these guys then used my ‘aggressiveness׳ as they called it as a basis to try and continue flirting with me. I can’t even begin to tell you how objectified I felt.
The next night, my exhibition ‘Just Breathe’, a real art show, did not have the turnout I had hoped for because the location of the show wasn’t as cool. At first, I was disappointed. But having taken a couple of days now to digest my week, I realize these are exactly the people who were supposed to be there. I am super grateful for the people who showed up to support. Really means a lot.
I’m really struggling. When I began my career, it started as a fluke on Instagram, and that is the channel through which I figured out how to grow my business. The gallery world did not accept me initially, as I am a self taught artist with zero official training. I also find the gallery world to be pretentious and as equally fake as the world of Instagram, but at least Instagram doesn’t take 50% of a sale. The whole spectacle of Miami Art Week makes me sick to my stomach. A banana taped to a wall with duct tape sold for $120,000 sold at the convention center. It makes me want to vomit.
I know I’m talented. I genuinely appreciate people’s continued support through my social media. I’ve tried to keep my content as genuine and positive as possible by setting an example of hard work, honesty, love, and compassion through both my art, my role as a mother, and through philanthropy. But if I am honest, the fakeness I see in the world of Instagram is starting to affect me on a personal level. I don’t need it. I spent my entire adolescent life the subject of gossip, and spent my entire young adult life trying to get away from the spotlight, until I needed to make changes in my life. And Instagram became that channel for financial independence. So I settled for taking the good with the bad.
At this point in time, I am highly reevaluating the direction in which I grow ESC. Whereas Instagram has been my channel is the past, I’m going to take the next few weeks to see what the future holds. I will always continue to share my art and design work on Instagram, but I believe I’m going to start keeping the personal off Instagram as much as possible. People should be focusing on my talent.
To the many thousands of you who are indeed kind and supportive and not sharing nonsense behind my back – my team and I are currently researching how we can reward your kindness. I’m aware my products are expensive, so for those of you who are unbelievable supporters, I’m going to introduce a loyalty program so you can earn site credit as your refer my business and spread the ESC love so that no matter what my brand is not unattainable. What is unique about my team is that we are always trying to problem solve in out of the box ways when our expectations aren’t met.
I didn’t even get to see the art at the convention centers because I was so busy working. Even though I think a lot of it is art world fakeness, I’m sure there was talent out there that was actually inspired work. And I’m also sure that some of the REAL talent didn’t get any hype or recognition because they’re not ‘famous’ or ‘important.’
These art fairs are a distraction for me from my real business. They take my attention towards hype that honestly goes against my personal ethos as a human. However, it is my art and my painting above everything I do that I love the most. It’s really a catch 22 and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m not sure I’m going to participate in Miami Art Week any more. I’ll likely just go as a spectator to network and enjoy the art. It’s already a hard time for me with the memories I have associated with it but the true understanding of the experience is really what’s mentally troubling and disturbing.
I woke up my last morning in Miami feeling emotionally defeated. But I need to remind myself of my own message that I preach over and over again. Focus on the positive. For every person who shared my post of me in a sheer top, I had at least two people expressing how much they supported me.
And the end of my trip reminded me exactly why I need to maintain my positive attitude, and use the negative experiences as a learning opportunity. I found out while I was crying in my Uber on the way to the airport that Tilebar closed a huge tile order for a big restaurant project in Las Vegas. And perhaps one of my best moments of Miami Art Week was seeing my Arc Collection installed in Tamara Feldman’s beautiful room at Casacor.
I am forever grateful for the brands who give me opportunity and who support my career and my vision. These are the brands you should support because they’re not afraid to keep it real and be outside the box.
Thankfully, as you know, I don’t stay defeated for long. Will hug my kids, sleep it off, rejuvenate at the Eden Rock in St. Barth’s with my team and friends as I ring in 30 and figure out which deal I’m going to hustle next.