Why do artists vary or maintain particular elements of their work? How do they weigh these decisions at various career stages? Why do they successfully garner money or prestige from certain works? My book project, Creative Visions (under contract, University of Chicago Press), addresses these questions by exploring how artists' participation in the art market influences their creative processes. It draws upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the New York City contemporary visual art market as well as over 100 interviews with artists, dealers, curators, collectors, and art advisers. By analyzing artists' series of decisions during creative production and their interactions in the art market, I show that artists’ creative practices share a consistent structure within which artists apply common forms of judgment, leading to the production of certain kinds of artworks. Specifically, I reveal how artists develop distinctive creative visions and how perceptions of these creative visions circulate through the art market, enabling and constraining future creative decisions. By analyzing creative production through individuals’ moments of judgment, I offer a new prospective by which to study creative production across fields.
My past research and collaborative projects explore processes of judgment and valuation in diverse social settings. These include a two-year ethnography of sensual figure drawing class in an erotic arts club, a quantitative analysis of literary selections for community-wide reading programs nationwide (with Wendy Griswold), and a study examining practices of reading academic literature across different fields (with Gary Fine).