Being an Artist

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.

13 thoughts on “Being an Artist

  1. “there’s an ease that comes with being my authentic self” says a lot and it’s true. I’m in a situation where I cannot for various reasons be “my authentic self” and it hurts. It’s killing inside and to compensate it I need a place private where I have the freedom to be myself. I’m not an artist so I don’t know that life, but I think to be “authentic” is part of every life as a human being.

  2. That you are an artist is shown in this picture. The beads are arranged to make a lovely picture; not just in a pile as mine would be:-)

  3. Forgot to mention, I love the beads! When the picture first opened up I thought it was a plate of food, with colorful olives! Maybe I’m hungry!

  4. Maria, Not only are you an authentic artist, you are an authentic, honest person whose insights are astonishing and enlightening. Thank you, Annie

  5. Looks like Christmas with the reds, greens and sparkles. Gorgeous as you have them arranged and I’m sure they’ll be just as beautiful in whatever way you use them. What a sweet gift from your sweet Jon. He is such a generous man with his photos that he shares with us all as well as his wise words. As are you, thank you both so much.

  6. The beads look like a bowl of food from an unknown planet where the inhabitants eat rocks and minerals. Absolutely perfect just as they are.

  7. Maria, you said it so well, you are a wonderful artist. I feel my transition to artist was very similar to yours. When art grabs you and says do this there is no way to argue you just go forward with art. I was afraid to be my artist self for so many years because I never thought I was good enough. Over the last several years I have come to realize it was the fear monster that John talks about and now I am working as an artist as well.

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