Selina Trepp Wins The Present Prize: Family Matters!

Selina Trepp is the winner of The Present Prize: Family Matters!

After about 16 nominations and ~9000 votes, we’re proud to announce that she has been awarded $1250 for her work as an artist while being a parent. She says,

Thank you again, I feel honored to be the recipient of this award, beyond the help that the money provided, it is so encouraging to know that people who don’t know me enjoy my work, and this award, due to the democratic nature of voting, communicates that so well to me.

About parenthood:

Becoming a parent has resulted in fundamental changes to how I work and live. My method of dealing with the obvious drawbacks of parenthood — less time and less money — has been to turn them into assets. Less time forces me to use my time well, to use all the little pockets of free time to make work. When Maxine still napped, I would work on hand drawn animations during her naptimes, this resulted in an entire body of work called  “Nap Animations”, that functioned as abstract animations, but also as a documentation of the lengths of her naps. If a nap was short, the animation reflected that, it was short too, if she slept long, then the animation was longer.

The effect of less money has brought me to the main conceptual restraint that I am currently working with: I work with what I have. I do not bring anything into my studio; instead I use and reuse all that has accumulated in there over the years. I began this experiment in October 2012. This constraint necessarily affects the form of my work, as materials run out my work is changing with the circumstances. Now when I make, the challenge is to see the potential of things. What remains is that the camera brings all parts together, flattened into a single reality.

Beyond the benefit of saving money, I see this mode of production in itself as a political position; I use my actions, my production choices of non-consumption and recycling, to express my stance. In addition to that I see it as an affirmation of creativity itself. I can make what I need with whatever is at my disposal. Seeing my daughter play has been a huge inspiration, often she doesn’t know what the intended purpose of an object is and uses it in unconventional ways, anything can be anything.

Selina Trepp is an artist who’s work explores economy and improvisation. Finding a balance between the intuitive and conceptual is the goal, living a life of adventure is a way, embarrassment is often the result. The best and worst advice she ever got was: If in doubt be radical. Her work combines installation, performance, painting and sculpture via photography. Additionally she developed a practice of singing combined with creating realtime animated projections and has been performing as one half of the duo Spectralina, an audiovisual collaboration with her husband Dan Bitney.

The Present Prize #4: Family Matters

“For those who have defied the advice of mentors and gallerists by deciding to raise children while also pursuing an artistic practice, it can be hard to know how to proceed. While many well-known artists have managed to be engaged parents while pursing successful careers, mention of this creative balancing act is largely absent from critical discourse, and so we find ourselves reinventing the wheel again and again.”

-Christa Donner, Cultural ReProducers (Half Letter Press, 2014)

Over the past 4 years, since our girls were born, Oliver and I have become more and more aware of the challenges and struggles parents go through in balancing a creative practice and raising children. Remember when you were a teenager and full of angst and relationships were just hard sometimes?  When life’s big questions felt like they needed an answer, now?  When you were struggling to find out who you were and how you were going to find your place in the world? I’ve found that becoming a parent is sort of like that: challenging emotionally, full of identity crises, and a process that involves a re-alignment of your priorities and world view.

That’s not to say it’s all bad – in fact, if we stick with the high school metaphor, think of all the strong memories you have from those short 4 years and compare that number to any previous set of 4 years.  All that change, those struggles, those questions of identity that challenge us can make space for beautiful new things to happen, for a new open-ness to experiences, and for spaces of awe and wonder.

I don’t know if it’s really harder for parents pursuing a creative practice, but I do know that it’s hard.  Artists are  great at scrimping for money generally, but sometimes being responsible for a helpless little thing makes many of us less willing to scrape the bottom. While we’ve toted along our children to many art events, sometimes inappropriately, it’s pretty much unacceptable to participate in a lecture with kids in tow.  While we’ve never been great at getting out, you might say that our social capital has decreased in the past years.  Many opportunities and residencies are off limits. Even ones with good intentions don’t always work out.  The Bemis Center announced a residency for artist-parents this past November only to have to pull the program when it became clear they hadn’t fully figured out all the childcare logistics.  Time changes as you work around naptimes, more rigid mealtimes, and meltdowns. Getting from bed to door in the morning can no longer be a 15 minute endeavor.

Too many artistic lives are built for single, childless, workaholic 23-year-olds. That can’t last. Raising children forces us to change, and that is good in the long run for us and for our field. It’s true that I could no longer write grants at midnight when I had a kid. But thank god I stopped writing grants at midnight, right? – Andrew Simonet, Artists Raising Kids

The adjustment that happens after having kids happens to everyone who has kids.  You know it will happen, but it’s still surprising when it does. But sometimes it forces us to face things that were not working.  We stopped taking jobs – either self-assigned or asked for by others – that didn’t pay or didn’t have at least some small stipend or grant attached to it. It forced us to professionalize in that way. I used to be a floral designer.  Now I rarely take a job because the cost of childcare is the same as what I would bring in. Instead I do web design more professionally now, where I can work less for more money.

I’m pregnant again and am looking forward to and dreading the phase that will come this fall, so this topic is close to my mind.  But before that happens, Oliver and I want to announce our call for nominations for the next Present Prize – to be given to someone balancing a creative practice and parenthood.  The money we give away might be enough for a month of daycare, for some on-demand childcare, or for whatever else the parent in question needs. Let’s reward someone for making the time, for playing the long game, for proving it can be done, for taking a break or taking it slow for a while, for being selfish while at the same time giving all of themselves, and for setting the example for their kids that balance is possible – you just have to work at it. Because in the end, family matters.

If you are a current web hosting client, nominate up to three parents pursuing a creative practice.  Include their name and some sort of contact info (preferably email). Email your nominations here.

If you think this is a good idea and want to both contribute to the prize and nominate some people, go here to Buy in.


Additional Resources for Parents:

Cultural ReProducers - an evolving group of active cultural workers who are also parents – has compiled a great list of Resources for parent cultural workers  that includes grants, publications, and parent friendly residency programs.


The Present Prize #3 Nominees

The Present Prize#3: Research-Based Studio Practice
Nominees are:

Laurie Halsey Brown

Torreya Cummings

Brian Conley

Fiona Connor

Collin McKelvey and John Davis

Sasha Duerr

Jaimie Healy

Allison Holt

Helena Keeffe

Myrna Knode

Daniel Nevers

Scott Oliver

Megan Prelinger

Phil Ross

Miljohn Ruperto

Paolo Salvagione

Andrew Venell

Anne Walsh

Samira Yamin

The Present Prize #3 is open for Nominations!

At the beginning of this year, I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how I could fund some of the projects I was working on and wanted to continue with. These were largely research based projects that I considered part of my practice. But since these works were harder to situate strictly as artworks or as social science, they were very hard to fund.  Fortunately, I’m in a position to help give that opportunity to someone else!

Our practice as artists is dependent on what we produce. But there are times when we need only to explore, where the result is so far from the horizon, that we cannot see it. While often these times can be extremely productive, it is hard for most artists to justify a step away from the exhibition schedule, from deadlines, and from the scene in general in order to dedicate the time needed to fully know a subject.

“To really see something differently, it takes a tremendous amount of work, to understand what is in fact what you are looking at. I make a new project every five years and I think a lot of artists don’t work that way. So many of us are on deadline. I did that as well but in these long term projects I try to understand as much as possible and that takes time. If you really want to understand something and really get into the idea, it takes a long time to investigate any idea or methodology.”-Trevor Paglan

It’s time to reward someone for taking the leap to pursue something complex, for doing the research, and taking the time to learn. Let’s acknowledge the time and commitment an individual is putting forth in order to gain and ultimately share knowledge for the betterment of all of us.

“… art practice, in its most elemental form, is an educational act, for the intent is to provoke dialogue and to initiate change…to vision anew what is possible, but in a way that allows others to share the view.” – Graeme Sullivan

All of our web hostees are invited to nominate two artists that are doing exceptional research as their studio practice.

If you would like to participate in this prize as a non-hostee, you can buy in.  For $25 you can nominate two artists, vote in both the public and final private phases, and contribute your entire amount (minus transaction fees) towards giving an artist a little extra time to research. Learn more here>>

Boom. by Packard Jennings is winner of The Present Prize: Net Love!

The Hostees have spoken!  51 contributions made up a $1224 Prize for one artist whose work exists on the internet.  204 public voters narrowed down the field of 14 nominated works to three, and now the choice has been made.

We’re going to celebrate with Packard next Thursday September 6th and hand over a big check in Lake Merritt park for a lovely evening happy hour from 5-6:30 pm.  You should join us. We’ll be here.

Congratulations to Packard Jennings for! is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

Destructables was developed with a few basic ideas in mind:

Dissent is necessary for a healthy society.

Public space is politicized.

Resistance and protest needs constant re-invention.


The Present Prize Finalists

Thanks to 204 voters who cast a grand total of 3,152 votes, public voting for the Present Prize is complete!  We’d like to congratulate our three finalists: Maria Molteni, Packard Jennings, and collaborators Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate.

It was a very close race and other competitors were not far behind.

About half of people coming to the site voted just once, indicating a direct link from that artist’s social network. However, the second highest percentage of people (ten percent,) took the opportunity to vote on all 91 matchups, making their opinion heard in much greater force. Of the remaining 40%, people seemed to tire out of voting all across the gamut.  While the direct links certainly had an impact on the final results, as soon as people voted more than once, they contributed to a scenario where the effect of internet popularity was diluted.

Here are the the three finalists again.  It’s interesting to note that each of these winning works engage a larger community as contributors to their projects.

Cloaque by Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate

“Cloaque works as a digital landfill. It is the result of the collection, treatment and joining together of a series of images found online or self produced work, to create a column of digital compost. It is a collaborative project hosted on a tumblr platform where artists are invited to continue the previous work developing an endless vertical collage.”

Claudia Maté is a spanish web developer working on a large area of online based projects. She experiments with different programation languages and 3D softwares, using platforms as Tumblr and exploring new posibilities with HTML5.

Carlos Saez is a multidisciplinary artist. He has been working in fashion, creating his own brand. Also with video through his  audiovisual project Multi-Movies  and lately as creative director of Room Mate Hotels.



New Craft Artists in Action by Maria Molteni

“The NCAA team captain launched MOLTENi Net Works in response to cases of Empty Net Syndrome in Boston. This yarn-bomb initiative, executed via workshops, pickup games & internet cataloging, aims to create functional, hand-crafted basketball nets for neglected public hoops. Inspired by a mapping process and DIY form of slow production, we make use of neglected courts & the internet as public venues across the globe. The project aims to build pro-active relationships between artists, athletes, & neighbors, tracing connections between such networks via hoop coordinates logged on our public gmap. When it comes to love for the NET, NCAA assumes Triple Threat.”


Maria Molteni grew up in Nashville, TN, a misfit in the bible belt where differences are settled on the court. Swallowed by team jerseys for 10 years, she swore to become an “Art & Basketball Star”. Her neighbors expressed their support via MOLTEN brand basketballs with bold i ’s scribbled on the end. This anecdote illustrates concepts & processes of Maria’s current practice, approaching art as the reassessment of authorship via appropriation/technology & expression of support/protest by DIY craft. by Packard Jennings is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

Packard Jennings is a visual artist who uses appropriation, humor and interventionist tactics to address political and corporate transgressions against public interests. A native of Oakland, California, he received his MFA from Alfred University in New York. He has garnered critical attention across a variety of media, including: Artforum, Playboy, Flash Art, the Believer, New American Painting, the Washington Post, and the front page of the New York Times. 

Now it is up to our grant contributors to pick a final winner!  If you are a TPG web hostee or a buy-in contributor, go here to cast your final vote.

Congratulations to The Present Prize: Net Love Nominees

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be getting some additional information from these artists and building a platform for the public voting phase. In the meantime, get to know the projects!

We Who Feel Differently by Carlos Motta

Supercruft and Live Disasters by Andrew Venell

NSKYC by Mike Bodge by Andrey Yazev

Cultural Differences by Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz  (declined to participate)

Cloaque founded by Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate

Open_Close.txt and The Internet Makes Me Happy by Emilio Gomariz by Packard Jennings

C RED BLUE J by Chris Sollars

HD Jellyfish Footage by Julian Dawe (declined to participate)

Peter Hasson: Praying Ping Pong by Jesse Nichols by Anthony Antonellis

Molteni Net Works by Maria Molteni and the New Craft Artists in Action

Sanctuary by Aaron Vincent Elkaim


The Present Prize Report

You may recall that back in March we awarded the very first Present Prize, the grant funded entirely by web hosting fees, to Allison Pebworth who used the money to make an exploratory trip to Maine’s Shaker community in order to set up her future residency with them.  Well, she just made her journey and sent us this report via postcard:

“Greetings after a successful trip to the Sabbath Day Lake Shaker Community!  Thank you Present Group for sending me to the east coast – we were not only able to narrow down a residency for 2012m but I also found an art space in nearby Portland, ME who want to forge a collaboration with the Shakers and my project with them.  Thank you!  Allison”

Thanks to all the hostees who made this first grant possible and so successful!  On to the next one!

And the winner is.. Alison Pebworth!

With the help of The Collective Foundation, the hostees, the general public, and all the artists who participated, we are proud to announce that the winner of The Present Prize is Alison Pebworth!  Alison will use The Present Prize $1000 Travel Grant to visit the Sabbath Day Lake Shaker Community in Gloucester, Maine to develop a residency with the last four living Shakers and to research Radical Sects and Utopian Societies of America for an upcoming tour with the Beautiful Possibility Project.

We received an extra $100 bonus check from a generous benefactor who wanted the winner to be able to have a hearty meal with a friend on her travels.  He also contributed to the grant early on, liking the idea of artists helping out other artists.  Moments like these make me feel so wonderful about the generosity and collaborative spirit of artists both around the world and in the bay area in particular.

So on Monday night, we gathered with some of the local hostees and participating artists to give Alison her giant check over some tacos and beer.  Congratulations Alison!

L-R: Courtney Fink (Art Publishing Now, Mission Arts Trail Guide), Nathanial Parsons, Alison Pebworth, Scott Oliver, Oliver Wise (TPG), Eleanor Hanson Wise (TPG), Lauren Venell, Helena Keeffe (Alula Editions), Joseph del Pesco (Collective Foundation)

Web hosting that supports artists.


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