How Rochester Artist Collaborative is Helping Local Artists Thrive

Rochester Artist Collaborative is for the community

Art runs deep in Rochester’s roots. To know modern artists here is to know true creative souls. Folks dedicated to filling the world with beautiful things and spaces. One of those artists is Adam Eaton. 


Adam Eaton, founder of Rochester Artist Collaborative
Image Credit: Albert Jones

Eaton is a bright star whose work captures the true beauty of black skin. He is also the director of Rochester Artist Collaborative, a local organization that looks to support artists in the community. RAC provides equipment, space, and programs to help artists grow through the Creators Lab Photography Studio located on North Goodman Street in Rochester. 

“The main goal is to give artists in low-income neighborhoods and artists who aren’t normally given access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology, the tools and resources they need to create art for the community,” says Eaton. “We’re giving artists the tools and resources they need to become sustainable artists.”


Supporting Black women artists

About 20 photographers take part in their space right now. Eaton hopes to grow and diversify this group in 2022. 

“We’re looking to grow the number. This year Rochester Artist Collaborative is doing the Women Artists Initiative. We want more Black women artists and other artists of color to have more access to this space and its resources.

When asked about influential women in his life, Eaton highlighted his mother and younger sister. Now he wants to give what he can to women like them.

“I come from a strong family of Black women and I have always wanted to have the opportunity to support Black women,” says Eaton. “I believe Black women are the most underrepresented artists in Rochester and the country. Now that I have the opportunity I want to give a push to give Black femmes the opportunity to have these resources.”


Navigating growth during COVID and beyond

The Lab opened in 2020 in the heart of the pandemic. But thankfully that hasn’t had a negative impact on the studio. 

“We have actually done very well during the pandemic because a lot of artists needed access to space. Many of them had lost their jobs and wanted to focus more on their creative careers. 

Artists pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the studio and use it in private sessions. There is no limit on time. The Lab has become a much-needed space for its artists.

 “I get feedback from the artists here,” says Eaton. “Allison McDonald was the first scholarship recipient for the space here. She said she was not able to practice her art form before this space because photography can be very expensive. Having access to lighting equipment and different modifiers to create fine art photography, it’s difficult to fund that on your own as a new artist. When I hear the feedback from artists that use this space, that is the driving force to continue giving resources.”


Community support is essential

Eaton says without the support of the community, spaces like the Creators Lab can’t thrive. 

We need the help of the community to continue this organization. It’s time for Rochester to support artists of color in our community. We have really been neglected. The arts in general, especially for emerging artists. I don’t think Rochester supports the arts as the economic driver it can be. I push for community members to give more resources because it could be a major economic driver for the city. “

Rochester Artist Collaborative is looking for community members to provide scholarship and funding opportunities so that they can remove the subscription fees and continue to give artists in low-income neighborhoods resources to practice their craft. Eaton says it’s important to support art because it can start some important and powerful conversations. 

“I truly love Rochester, I love the people, I love the community,” says Eaton. “I love Black skin and showcasing the beauty of just being Black and the hardship that it brings in our community. Rochester has a lot of discrimination and racism and I’m trying to use my art to show Black people are beautiful, Black people need to be treated better and given more opportunities, put an end to racism and those kinds of ideals. Because we are a family and a community and we all need to work together and to have those kinds of conversations. People have to understand why they lean towards discrimination and racism and I believe art can be a driver of those conversations.”

You can connect with RAC by email, website, or on Instagram and Facebook.


About Brianna Milon

Brianna is a local media professional who loves writing, watching Netflix, and playing with her dog, Weenie and her cat, Fancy. She studied Journalism and Broadcasting at SUNY Brockport and was heavily involved in the campus radio station. Brianna also co-hosts a radio show, “Fat, Black, and Femme”, on 100.9 WXIR. You can find out more on Facebook.


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