Art Co-ops and the Power of Mobilizing Collaboration for Creativity
Brian Eno rejected the lone genius myth — the idea that groundbreaking works of art arise out of a notable few graced with exceptional talent. Instead, he observed that good artwork doesn’t miraculously emerge from a few great figures, but from relationships. He coined the term “scenius” to reflect the genius that arises out from social relationships or “scenes” of novel creativity and thought.
History provides ample proof. For as long as there has been art, artists have worked together to support each others’ projects and sustain their livelihoods. Early examples include the medieval guilds of Europe, where artisans such as stonemasons and glaziers worked together to meet their common needs. Artist collectives have also been around for centuries. Contemporary versions range in size from just a few members to scores who produce art individually or collaboratively and exhibit their works in shows together.
The tradition of artists banding together is alive and well today. Below are three examples of artist forming worker cooperatives to support themselves and their work at a time of increasing economic precarity.