A Local Artist Shares How She Put Together Her First Exhibition

Bethany Radcliff


We all know how challenging it can be to support yourself as an artist here in Bushwick. Between lack of both money and time, being an artist really does mean coming to terms with an everyday struggle. But local artist Vicky Shum is making it work, and her upcoming exhibit, “In Memory,” is evidence.

Shum works a day job in a creative role in Manhattan, but she’s been wanting to take on a personal exhibit for years. This particular idea came to her a few years ago when she was fed up with the lack of nature in New York City. As a way of coping, Shum began creating what make up the bulk of her exhibit: hanging “flower-clouds,” made of tulle and paper. The exhibit will consist of around 55 strands hanging from the ceiling. 

More than bringing the outdoors inside, this project allowed Shum to display her pent-up thoughts as she processed her own anxieties. As such, Shum wants viewers to see her exhibit as a place for quiet and thoughtfulness, and — though she was hesitant to use the word — a meditation of sorts. The space is also dedicated to Shum’s father, who passed away when she was younger.

“It’s obviously a very controlled environment, but I think just bringing a moment of peace and calm is…the goal in making the space,” Shum told Bushwick Daily.

Shum has held on to the idea for “In Memory” in some version or another for two years. She constructed her first flower-cloud early this year, then recently decided she was ready to make an exhibit happen.

“I’ve just been tired of waiting for myself,” she said.

And after encouragement from friends, she decided to set up a gofundme page to garner financial support. So, she wrote up the details of the project, and linked her gofundme on her social media profiles. To her astonishment, it only took 10 days to reach her goal of $1200. In fact, she raised more than a quarter of the funding in the first day of posting her page.

Deciding to crowdfund can be a scary thing, and involves risk and vulnerability. Shum said her decision to crowdfund this project revealed the community she has — and that, overall, others truly have our backs.

“Even chipping in a little bit is a really big support, and helped me realize that people do want to see you achieve your goals,” Shum said.

Shum said she thinks it’s easy to become disillusioned in our culture, because we live in a time when everyone can do everything, but people are still eager to see what you have to offer. 

“I think people are curious to see when you have a skill that you want to present, what comes of it,” she said.

Crowdfunding itself was simple, Shum said, but did present a bit of a challenge in the exercise of defining and giving meaning to her project. But putting in writing the reasoning for the project “was helpful in creating a narrative in how this project is significant to me and why I want to share it,” Shum said. This forced her define the project for herself, and she suspects it’s what has allowed supporters to relate to her project.

If you’re an artist, looking to take the next step, no matter how big or small, Shum said the most important thing is to talk about it with people you trust.

“When I was finally able to talk about it out loud with people who know me it was like a no-brainer, and really spurred momentum. It really was a snowball effect in actually getting it done,” Shum said.

“In Memory” will kickoff with an opening reception on Thursday, July 27. The exhibit will be on display from July 27–28 from 6–9 p.m., and July 29–30 from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Rockwall Studios on 1080 Wyckoff Ave in Ridgewood, a few blocks off the Halsey L. 

Featured image courtesy Vicky Shum.

Latest articles

Related articles