- Address: 916 Springdale Rd Bldg 2, #101, Austin, TX 78702
- Executive Director: Shea Little
Shea Little (S): Big Medium was started by three artists – Joseph Phillips, Jana Swec, and me. We shared a warehouse studio space where we collaborated, made art together, and held pop-up exhibitions of our work. We expanded our studio space to have a dedicated gallery to show our work and the work of other artists in the community. The gallery began as a place for emerging artists to experiment and explore. From those early days in a raw warehouse, we have grown into a more established and polished gallery space. Despite the new space and the growth of the organization, the roots have remained the same for the Big Medium Gallery. We still maintain an experimental focus and now have expanded our scope to also show the work of more established artists and of artists across Texas, nationally, and internationally.
S: We wanted a name that was open and ambiguous, something that could be interpreted in many different ways, but also a name that alluded to something that encapsulates or supports a large group of artists.
S: Experimental, accessible, innovative
S: We want more space so we can have multiple shows at once, with the option of combining all our space into one big expansive exhibition. We also want our gallery to expand outdoors and outside of the white-walled space into a more public or open setting that allows people to encounter art without actively seeking it out.
S: Austin is a bit strange compared to other Texas cities. We don’t have as many galleries as one would expect to find in a city this size, especially with the number of artists and other creatives living and working here. Austin does have wealth, but not a long history of wealth with roots and generations of collectors buying art and philanthropic giving to support arts organizations. Without that layer of support and patronage, galleries and art spaces struggle and come and go on a fairly regular basis. Those that do stand the test of time have learned to be resilient and creative with their spaces.
S: We look for artists that are exploring new approaches to art and artists that can transform the white cube into a different environment that gives our audience a new and unique experience.
S: Young artists should explore and learn as much as possible and connect with your community. Being connected to other artists to talk shop and being connected to galleries that show work they like is really key. Artists also shouldn’t expect to be great right off the bat and have tons of shows in galleries; young artists have to experiment and work hard at what they do, and eventually the dedication will reap rewards.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced as a small- to medium-sized gallery with an international presence?
S: Funding is the biggest challenge. As part of our experimental and non-commercial focus, we are dedicated to supporting artists with stipends to help with travel and shipping. As we try to expand our international presence, the costs increase greatly when attracting international artists.
S: We are trying to maintain a good balance. Due to The University of Texas and Austin’s general attractiveness as a city to visit and stay in for a while, we get a good amount of international artists coming through and spending time here. Those artists tap into the local community, and we may show them while they are here or after they have left.
How do you feel that introducing international artists into the mix has elevated the “Big Medium Gallery” experience?
S: We hope our audience recognizes that they can experience a wide and diverse spectrum of artists and art experiences with Big Medium. We know that opening our doors to any artist in the world is the best thing for Big Medium to bring those unique art experiences to Austin.
- Featured image on the top: Art by Akirash
- Photos courtesy of Big Medium Gallery