The Art Biz ep. 121: Guaranteeing an Effective Project with Eve Jacobs-Carnahan


We usually start a long-term project with a specific goal or set of expectations in mind. 

Rarely does the project turn out the way we thought it would. More often than not, it’s better than we had imagined.

Capitol building made from knit materials artist Eve Jacobs Carnahan | on Art Biz Success
©2021 Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, Knit Democracy Together. Yarn, felt, knitting needles, enamel, foam board, rigid foam, metal tin, and dowels, 41 x 68 x 33 inches. Photo credit: Paul Rogers.

But before we can get to the point of admitting that the change might have actually led to an improvement in the original plan, we have to struggle.

We question our assumptions.

It becomes clear that we need to ask for more help or more money. In essence, we recognize we can’t continue working in the same fashion as before. We are forced to adjust to outside forces, like a worldwide pandemic.

About a year and a half ago I had Eve Jacobs-Carnahan on the podcast to talk about her project, Knit Democracy Together (ep. 64), which was developed to discuss the U.S. electoral system within the context of knitting circles. Yes, I said knitting circles. And, yes, this was before the 2020 election.

Together, the craft artists would knit blocks that would contribute to a state capitol building sculpture while they learned about the electoral system that runs our country.

artist Eve Jacobs Carnahan placing a drum on top of the knit Capitol sculpture | on Art Biz Success
Eve placing a drum structure atop her sculpture.

I asked Eve to come back on The Art Biz for an update—to look at how such a long-term project evolves. After all, the fragile ground beneath our electoral system has been convulsing. Surely some things have changed since Eve started her project.

And, yes, things have changed. Eve, through her project, has responded to this surreal moment in our country.

It’s difficult to talk about a project in the middle. It’s no longer fresh. The passion might be waning as things evolve. You realize that what you were once sure of is now more malleable than you had planned on. You’re facing options that you didn’t think you had in the beginning or roadblocks you couldn’t have imagined.

So it’s especially instructive to interview people at various stages of their projects.

I was most interested in talking with Eve at this point about judging the effectiveness of her project because it was created to make a social impact. Is it making a social impact? As you’ll hear, a fellowship Eve received is helping her with this process.

Eve outlines the 5 indicators she is using to measure effectiveness. Even if you don’t have a project focused on making a social impact, these indicators will be useful for appraising the successful reach of your exhibition, event, program, or teaching.


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