Alexandra Pacheco Garcia
How did you get into debt?
The bulk of my debt is from graduate school. I decided to go to graduate school during the financial crisis, it seemed like a reasonable investment in the path towards becoming a professional artist and academic. I chose a three year program that was tuition free however, I had to take out loans for cost of living, materials, etc. Even living frugally and making a small stipend as a TA, I accrued $65,000 of debt. I have an additional 4,000 in credit card debt associated with cost of living in LA post grad school.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
On more days then I would like to admit, I regret going to grad school. I thought that would allow me access into the professional artist class, I thought having a masters would allow for a stable job teaching in my city. Neither of those things are true. I can't afford a studio, I am working full time + side hustles when I can find them, I barely have time to myself let alone time for art making. For my last show I made a film that I am proud of but put me further into debt. I honestly wonder if there is a point to any of it. I feel foolish for thinking this was a viable career choice. I also feel jaded and frankly jealous of those that are able to figure this thing out. More often then not, those that are "making it" to one degree or another either have financial support, are stretched to the limits trying to make ends meet and/or are in terrible amounts of debt. Art making and art consumption is for the leisure class. My economic reality, the emotional strain I am under as a result, make it difficult to produce.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
Most likely. You make different choices when you are working with very limited means. My debt and income level certainly impact my ability to experiment materially, work at larger scale, choices I make in finishing. Generally speaking, photography and video production tend to be costly mediums. But on the flip side, financial limitations forces one to be resourceful. I've come across interesting, cost affective solutions to visual problems in part, because I simply didn't have the means to spend money freely.