We are thrilled to announce that Justin Duyao is Variable West’s inaugural Editorial Apprentice for the spring 2021 semester.
Justin is a writer, editor, and student with a BA in English Literature from Harding University. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is pursing an MA in Critical Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. His interests include studies of consciousness, sociolinguistics, and gender.
The VW Editorial Apprenticeship is a semester-long paid program that allows emerging writers and editors to learn how an online journal works while expanding their art writing practice. In addition to assisting with daily tasks such as website and social media management, apprentices receive reading and writing assignments, participate in discussions, and will take ownership of Variable West’s Love Letters column.
Over the past ten years, my life as an art writer has only been possible because of the support and trust of mentors and colleagues. Editors took chances on me, professors encouraged me and helped me make connections, and I swapped editorial feedback with my network of peers. These interactions were absolutely essential to my growth as a young writer, yet they feel like an impossibility in today’s new world of cascading closures, cancellations, and social isolation.
The media and publishing worlds have been in trouble for a while—years before the pandemic—with countless magazines, newspapers, journals, and blogs shutting down, often abruptly, citing a lack of financial sustainability. Two of these recent deaths hit me particularly hard: The Village Voice in 2018, and Art Practical earlier this year. To me, both publications represent environments where emerging writers could learn about the business, develop their voice, and build their career. Their absences leave a palpable void—one I am determined to fill in whatever way I can.
With that in mind, I’m relaunching Variable West’s editorial venture as the online journal Variable Voice. You can expect exhibition reviews, essays, interviews, Love Letters, and other series that try to find a balance between generous, accessible language, zealously researched topics, and experimental prose that challenges the conventions of each format.
Of course, I could never replace these two publishing legacies, but I am deeply inspired by what they both did for art criticism and writing. No other art journals have dedicated as much care and passion to the West Coast art ecosystem as Art Practical. No other newspaper—alternative or mainstream—compares to TheVillage Voice‘s radical, celebratory, razor sharp criticism and journalism. I hope to infuse the essences of both these publications in everything we produce in Variable Voice.
You might be thinking: Sure, great ideas, but how will we stay afloat when so much of the publishing world is drowning? That’s where our incredible community comes in. By becoming a monthly subscriber or making a one time donation, you can help reinvigorate, sustain, and expand West Coast art writing and scholarship. Plus, I’ll be hustling everyday to find new funding opportunities. We’re extremely fortunate to have received a grant from Critical Minded, which will help us start with some real momentum.
Head to the Variable Voice page to see what we have published so far, and stay tuned for more!
I’m so excited for this new adventure, and can’t wait to share it with you.
We are thrilled to announce that Variable West has received a $5,000 grant from Critical Minded. The funds will be used to commission exhibition reviews, essays, and interviews from outstanding arts writers on the West Coast.
As if that weren’t great enough, the inimitable Ashley Stull Meyers will act as a guest editor of the Critical Minded series. Stull Meyers is a fierce advocate for West Coast arts and art writing, and has curated exhibitions and public programming for a diverse set of arts institutions along the West Coast. She served as the Northwest Editor for Art Practical, and her writing has been featured in BOMB Magazine, Daily Serving, The Exhibitionist, among other publications.
This project is supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to invest in cultural critics of color cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation.