>> We are all trying to find that space. A place where creativity and community coincide. Searching for that group of people, that camaraderie, where one can carry out their craft and connect. Having a space such as The Yards, dedicated to celebrating the creations of emerging artists, is vital to the artistic lifeline that runs through this city. Bringing vibrant narratives to this landscape, these artists need a place that will nurture their ambitions, vision, and talent, while helping them navigate through this unpredictable terrain.
Nestled cozily within the Rochester Public Market, The Yards rests right above Cure. Walking up the stairs, you immediately realize that you have entered into something extraordinary, an aesthetically stimulating and rare gem. Filled with character, the artistic expression that lines the walls instantaneously greets you. Feeling the warmth and passion of the artists that work within the studios, the space radiates positivity and support. Offering a plethora of resources that are available for ren, they host over a dozen studio spaces, coupled by a communal work space, a gallery showcase, and even a wood shop. In addition, they also host “First Friday exhibitions, curated showcases, workshops, public critiques, and private rentals” within their Lounge and Gallery space. With multiple avenues in which one can heighten and refine their abilities, the artists at The Yards also have the guidance of Kristina Kaiser.
After being a devoted member and former intern, fellow artist Kristina now owns and operates The Yards. Originally created in 2011, The Yards Collective was founded by Sarah Rutherford and Lea Rizzo. These dedicated female makers made their mark by creating this collaborative and inclusive space that helped to highlight the diversity and artistic happenings within the Rochester area. Since then, Kaiser has been inserting her own personal touch to the project, emphasizing the importance of engagement and community. Having gone through the same process herself, she shares that “for emerging artists, you get out of college and then there is this disconnect.” Upon entering this new territory, many questions and unknowns are surfaced.
Knowing the uncertainties that start to creep in, Kristina wanted to reform the space and help to put to ease some of these arising concerns. One of the building blocks to achieve this is inclusion and for Kaiser, that means “being accessible to a wide variety of artists.” The studios are a creative outlet for people that represent all walks of life, some of which include women of color, LGBTQIA members, and veterans.
With our ever revolving lives, having a singular spot where one can feel grounded has an undeniable attraction and pull. The studio artists are given 24 hour access to the space, and Kristina notes that this freedom allows them to create when they want and in the manner that they want. The magnetic allure and charm of The Yards is evident through its high demand for studio space and waiting list. “Once people rent with us, they usually rent with us for a couple years...we don’t have a high turnover…” Serving as a testament to the work being done, once seeding themselves within the community, people rarely migrate elsewhere.
Though the majority of the work presented is 2D, The Yards is also home to a variety of mediums including music, writing, fiber work, photography, tattoo art and more. The Gallery space also showcases ceramic and glass shows, along with live music and performance work. With a busy month ahead, they are currently in the works with fundraising for their birthday month. Events such as these go towards helping to keep programming costs low and affordable for the public. In addition, Kaiser and her team are in the process of developing a teen ambassador program that will help to expose kids to the world of the arts while instilling encouragement and curiosity. Always trying to keep art fun, Kristina shares that one of their main motivators is “trying to uplift people and show that creativity is accessible.”
Passionate about helping to propel emerging artists within the Rochester scene, The Yards serves as the platform for an otherwise vacant gap. With not many spaces placing emphasis on the up and coming, these studios steer away from forcing limitations and restrictions upon its artists.
Eradicating competitive notions of stature and prestige eligibility, Kaiser reminds us that “you can be at any stage in your career and be an emerging artist” demonstrating the importance of continual support and fellowship.
The art scene within ROC is expansive, but with multiple moving parts, sometimes things go overlooked. Taking note of this reality, Kristina has identified aspects that she wishes were more visible. In doing so, she hopes to see people seek out and explore more of the alternative art establishments, thus “widening their palette for what art is.”
So bring your craft, bring your vision, and most importantly bring yourself. Find a spot to take root within The Yards and grow with a community of people. After all, you don’t need to be known to be seen.