Artists often use their work as a vehicle for exploring conflicts, both internal and external. But for WPA member artist Selin Balci, art is about conflict at a microscopic level. 

Balci, a Hamiltonian Fellow who is receiving her MFA from University of Maryland this year, composes her work using bacteria, fungi, and mold, creating artificial constructs in which the natural behaviors of these microorganisms leave behind tangible images. Balci uses her knowledge of microbiology to manipulate the tiny life forms to create the desired structures, a kind of “painting” with living organisms.

“Bacteria and other microorganisms are fascinating because they demonstrate many of the same actions in human society – they communicate, they cooperate, they conflict. I harness that activity in my work, to explore the process of life.  I am the impresario and my players are hostile microorganisms,” Balci says.

As an emerging artist, Balci has accumulated an array of shows, including a two-person show at District of Columbia Arts Center (Organic Plasticity with Natalie Cheung, curated by Metasebia Yoseph), a group show earlier this year at VisArts (Field Work, curated by Susan Main), and participated in the MIND THE GAP project, which coincided with the Istanbul Biennial. Balci has worked hard for her visibility, but credits WPA’s ArtFile Online for some of her success.

“I gained a tremendous community because of WPA’s Artfile Online,” Balci says. “Last September, I was invited to participate in the show at the District of Columbia Arts Center. Metasebia Yoseph, curator of the show, found out about my work through ArtFile Online. In March, Susan Main reached me through ArtFile and asked me if I could participate in her show at VisArts. As a recent MFA graduate and an emerging artist, these invitations are invaluable for promoting my work in DC. I’ve also had inquires from art management and consulting services as well.”

Balci came to WPA via the Hamiltonian Fellowship program. “Hamiltonian provides 2 years of membership to WPA for its fellows. When I got my membership 2 years ago I immediately became active in the program and created a portfolio on ArtFile Online,” she says.

“At Hamiltonian Artists, it’s important that we provide our Fellows with partnerships and professional development resources outside of their fellowship. For many DC artists, the WPA membership has been extremely helpful in gaining additional exhibition and acquisition opportunities throughout the city. ArtFile Online has especially leveraged the work of our Fellows by providing exposure to important curators, collectors and art consultants.” says Angie Goerner, Hamiltonian’s Development Director.

Balci’s advice to emerging artists and new WPA members is fairly simple – get a profile and keep it updated. “After becoming a member, I immediately created a portfolio and I am updating it regularly,” She says. “ArtFile is a very dynamic web page, but I update my profile every 6 months, sometimes more frequently when I have new works. This is important because it shows visitors the progress you make and enables them to feel invested in your work.”

Liz Georges, WPA’s Membership Director, agrees. “ArtFile Online is a very powerful tool for artists, and works in tandem with an artist’s website to help an artist promote his or her work,” she says. “An artist can build a beautiful website, but the trick is getting people to look at it. That’s what ArtFile Online provides – a web-based platform with a built-in audience of curators, collectors, and gallerists, so that artists can build awareness of their work with key audiences.”

“I’ve made lots of connections with curators, gallery owners and art consultants through WPA,” Balci adds. “As an emerging artist this is the most difficult thing to achieve. ArtFile Online definitely provides you the necessary platform to promote your work.”

For more infomration about WPA Membership and ArtFile Online, contact WPA Membership Director, Liz Georges, at

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May 31, 2012