26. 04. 2018
Voices from 2028: Jess Martin
Four creative young people shared a letter from the future with the Country Arts SA whole of staff gathering in February, 2018.
This letter is from Jessica Martin.
Jess Martin is a writer and textile artist who grew up in Port Pirie and spent a lot of time at the Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery and as a junior member of the Embroiderers’ Guild of SA. She’s been in Adelaide since high school but wants to stay connected with the regional arts community.
From myself in 2028,
to myself in 2018, and to the staff of Country Arts SA
For a long time I didn’t know the value of staying in South Australia to pursue an arts career, or staying in touch with the town where I grew up. That has been something that I’ve learned gradually and that in the beginning I had to figure out alone.
I saw the value in returning to a community and a way of life that I drifted away from a long time ago because there were other people in their twenties involved in the arts, and there was the potential for a kind of community recognition that small towns usually reserve only for sports players.
I also had the realisation that my value in the arts is about the specificity of my experience, the ways I stand out, and often the ways I *don’t* fit in. When I was younger, growing up in a small town, those differences about me were just reasons not to engage and eventually to leave, but now with the support of the arts sector I know that there is space to be different and lead a path for younger people who are like me.
Over the last 10 years (2018-2028) I’ve exhibited in several regional galleries because older and more established artists weren’t always prioritised over opportunities for emerging artists. Information about opportunities was not only available to people who searched for it, but shared widely with younger people who don’t yet feel valid or recognised as artists or creatives. I was encouraged to adapt the interests of my generation and to validate them as creative projects. I’ve driven projects that have helped young artists be exhibited for the first time, because I know what it meant to me as a young teen to see my work on the wall at Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery.
I’ve also made these opportunities for other people who needed ways to explore their identities and think beyond the limits of isolated communities. But to do that I had the reassurance that the insights I had as a younger person working in the arts wouldn’t be dismissed as trivial trends. I was trusted when I said that digital cultures need to be embraced and that sometimes their value to young creative people is that they *are* inscrutable to older generations.
What has made me come back to live and work in regional arts was feeling that I wouldn’t be the token younger person, feeling that I could stay connected with a vibrant and widespread arts community, and feeling that I could show younger artists that even though there are reasons to leave and travel there are also reasons to come back.
IMAGE: Zines made by Jessica Martin.