We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Wall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I chose a career in the arts because the arts are what I am most passionate about. It’s not about the money, it’s about what drives me and what keeps interested, and wanting to explore what more I can do and contribute to the field. What I understood, when I first started out, about what the art world was and how I fit into it has changed significantly over time. Only through experience and working in the field was I able to really discover what I wanted to do, how my work would impact the field and how to navigate that journey. There is no set path. There are recommended paths that we have been taught will take us to certain places, help us achieve certain jobs in the art field, create the “success” artists are told to strive for but, in the arts, there are no gaurantees or certainties that lead the way, like in other professions, such as law, engineering, an the like. I have enjoyed finding my way and being more comfortable with the uncertainty of a career in the arts. I am a calculated risk taker, a creative thinker and someone who is good at inspiring artists and patrons of the arts, to engage with art, think cirtically about it and support it. That’s where my passion, my education and experience intersect to create the “creative work” that I do. I hope that by working at an academic institution, I am a model for college students to see and then further model this behavior, out in the real world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
May professionnal career has evolved in many ways since I started my work. At first, I had to convince my parents and myself that a career in the arts was worth pursuing. My freshman year in college, one of my professors suggested I pursue a fine arts degree in studio art. I shared this with my mother, who I thought had helped me dodge a bullet, by telling me I would be poor and destitute if I became an artist. I continued my path to become a lawyer, because that’s what I thought I wanted to do and my parents supported it. But, all that time I did not acknowledge the passion and joy art brought to my life. I loved art history, excelled in it academically and did not do well in my chosen major but still, I pursued law. I tried to appease my passion with doing classes outside my major and over the summer and even looked at more “stable” careers in the arts to satisfy my fears and those of my parents. That said, I could have saved myself time and my parents money, if I had just pursued the arts from the beginning. That was learning moment one. From there on I new I had to make up for lost time and plot a plan of action. With my passion for the arts and no more time to do a degreee in studio art, I pursued a career in art education, with a focus on working in art museums. I made “corporate minded” decisions to make my way up the latter quickly. I did what I set out to do but found little gratification in the title, the money or the role of “director.” That realization allowed me to fly and make my own path. I did work consulting in the arts, had my kids, opened my own gallery in Orange County, opened an artist residency dedicated to artists I believe in and I felt joy. Now, my path, based on all the steps before this moment, brought me to working in higher education, back on the east coast ( I studied landscape architecture in MA along my journey) and doing all that I enjoy on a totally new front. That’s feeding my passion, taking risks and exploring new territory. I continue to learn and grow. Know this, that’s what it’s about; growth, making a positve impact and never getting bored with what you do. My goal is to always want to do more, know that I can do more (confidence) and givng myself permission to do it. I believe that we all need to step into our light, make no excuses and do what you do well. Do you!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Of course, my list of things to do will always include places to get a good meal! As LA is my home, it bothers me little to sit in traffic to get where I need to go, so would take folks all over! For me, it’s an artspace a day with good food along the way and in between. Day 1 South LA, Nature’s Brew for breakfast (hash and eggs is so yummy) then off to Expo Park – visit CAAM (Ca African American Museum) and Science Center, cross the street to USC to visit the Fisher Gallery and have lunch on campus _ Lemonade for quick respite and walk through campus Day 2 Downtown – Broad Museum then, LA MoCA. Lunch in Little Tokyo for Shabu, Shabu. Walk around then, tea at the Japanese American national Museum Day3 Westside, Westwood to visit the Hammer Museum at UCLA, lunch in Westwood, – take your pick, then a cookie icecream sandwich from Dee Dee Reese. Walk onto campus, visti the botanical garden and then hit the Fowler Museum on campus. Day4Mid town, visit LACMA, lunch in the cafe, go on Jazz night and stay for the after hours concert and have a cocktail. Dinner at Farmers Market and participate in Karoake in the food court. Day 5 Orange County, break at Urth Cafe in Laguna, walk to Laguna Art Museum, walk along the ocean, head inland to OCMA, visit the galleries and shop at South Coast Plaza. Dinner Taco Maria in Costa Mesa on way back into LA. MAKE A RESERVATION Voila, the week! Makes me homesick, with COVID, I haven’t travel to back to LA in sometime. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My first shoutout would go to my parents, My mother taught me to make good decisions, consider all factors and then go with it. My father taught me that nothing is impossible and risks are necessary. I have one mentor, who taught me that to finish is to win. My husband always reminds me that I am not alone and team work does in fact, make the dream work. Really, at different times in my life people have appeared, served a purpose in my journey, then disappreared. That is how life works. It changes, and in turn you must change with it. Everyone you meet impacts you in some way, some more than others and in both positive and negative ways. I am grateful for all of it.
Linkedin: Erica Aimee Wall
Megan Haley – Gallery 51 Images