Beads that Jon bought for me, I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet
Yesterday maryfrommanchester posted a comment on my blog that got me thinking about what being an artist meant to me. When I think back on my life I can see that I’ve always been an artist. My ideas about what an artist is and the purpose of art has changed as I have.
As a teenager I had the romantic idea of the artists. Someone who has to suffer and perhaps never be known or appreciated until they were dead.
In my 20′s, when I first went to art school, I believed that art could change the world. I gravitated towards the feminist idea of the personal being political. I believed in Community Art and worked at a museum whose mission was to show the work of minorities and women. I felt like we were making a difference.
In my 30′s, when I went back to school for my MFA, Community Art was replaced with Performance art but I realized I was too shy for either one. Political art was seen as propaganda and I found myself fascinated with the idea of process art which allowed me to create very cerebral, personal but detached art. They were pieces that few people understood and that no one would want to take home and hang on their wall.
When I left school I became disenchanted with the art world. I was looking for some greater meaning in art and was disappointed when it seemed to me to be a business just like any other. I believed the only good art was original art and if I couldn’t make original art I didn’t want to be an artist.
I was in my early 40′s before I would begin making art again. It started when my friend Bobbi taught me to weave. Then Jon gave me the barn to use as a studio(my beloved studio barn) in exchange for helping him take care of the animals. Then I started making quilts.
I realized that weather I wanted to be an artist or not, I was one. If I was going to be my authentic self, being an artist was not a choice. It took a few years, but I’ve come to the point where I know I’m an artist and I will never stop creating in one form or another. I will keep doing my work no matter what. But It’s important for me to make art that connects with people in a positive way. And I want to put it out into the world and I want to sell it. And I know that the idea that it has to be original is just an excuse not to do it. And that being an artist is not a romantic idea, but just being who I am. And that I’m doing the work just like anyone else who is doing what they were meant to do. I’ve found that to be an artist I don’t have to suffer or struggle. That there’s an ease that comes with being my authentic self as long as I an honest and allow it to happen.