“Don’t move to New York,” I told an audience of young students at the University of Georgia last week. To my surprise, most of the students were already familiar with my thoughts on the matter—I’d forgotten about a conversation I’d had with local artist and MFA graduate Layet Johnson, who’d called to ask me if he should move to New York. That conversation became part of an installation in a hotel show. It’s a small town, so by the time I’d arrived, the entire student body had listened to the piece.
Still, the topic came up again and again during my stay, and part of it was my own doing. I’m sad that New York, the city I’ve lived in for more than 10 years, is now barely hospitable to those making the kind of art I love. It’s my job, though I don’t like it, to tell young artists thinking of moving that without connections, their job prospects are dim. The ugly reality is the cost of living is prohibitively expensive in New York.