Friday, April 22, 2011

In which I have to admit that I can do some stuff pretty darn good.

I signed myself up for an art show. Yes, I did. It's not a juried show, there aren't any criteria to submit a piece (just has to be art, yo), there's no fees, no prizes. It's a community effort that has developed a really good reputation over the years. But--I SIGNED MYSELF UP FOR AN ART SHOW HOLY SHIT!

This was at Kevin's recommendation/behest/push, which made me realize that he sees what I do as art. That's a level of recognition on his part that gratified me very much. Usually when I show him something I've finished, he says "That's nice, honey," or some variation thereon, which leaves me feeling like a kindergartner showing Daddy a stick figure drawing. His insistence that I get something in the show For Reals really surprised me.

Now all I have to do is get myself to see my work as Art For Reals.

I re-realized this when I posted the pic of the  finished face of my wood doll.  I looked at her and thought, "This is nothing special. It's just crafts, it's not art. All my drawn faces look the same. I don't know why I thought I could make it look good. I should just delete this post before anyone sees it and forget about it."

Now, I know that all artists and artisans do this to themselves, but that can't trivialize that *I* felt it, and felt it deep. When people tell me I'm talented, I always shrug it off as mere politeness. Every time I write my occupation as "artist" I cringe inside. WTF do I think I'm doing?!? ("Author" or "writer" don't make me feel like I'm an impostor-- after three or four successful novels, I've internalized that one confidently).

The hell of it is that I can actually see that there are things I do very well. If you catch me in the right mood, I'll tell you that I'm one of the best hand embroiderers in the country. My penmanship is not only clearly legible but also aesthetically pleasing. I can eyeball small measurements accurately. I read really fast with superior comprehension. I can write an essay an hour before it's due and it will, in fact, be quite good. For that matter, I can teach a good class as a substitute with only a few minutes' notification. I have a recognizable style and "hand": my faces don't in fact all look alike, but they are clearly my work.

But that's all technical stuff, or just "I've been doing this for 40 years so of course I'm skilled" stuff. But artist? Nah. Never thought of myself as a no-shit ARTIST.

Today I took a deep breath, got my mojo in place, leapt before looking, and signed myself up for an art show. You know what that means?

It means I'm an artist. For Reals.


  1. It's frustrating becuase so much of what we are good at is "women's stuff", or craft, and that gets dismissed in our culture because it's not "high art." Bullshit. You are a fabulous artist, and skilled, yes, but skill has to have something to work with in the first place. You're one of the most creative people I know, and I'm thrilled that you're doing this art show. I demand pictures and a full report! ;-)

  2. oh So TRUE - you ARE an Artist - and omg you are so Inspiring! Tiggs is Proudmost of Ya's and Heck Ya, enjoy every agonizing moment of this process - its always a process, and all that self doubt is just part of it. Most people get hung up on that part, but its really just part of the actually doing. Also the going with what is your way of working, and the mix of how the materials morph what you were intending, into new and unexpected directions.

    Such wonderful news - I am totally Inspired - Hey and my guy is named Kevin TOO!!! SwEEt!

  3. Nonnie--Kevin and I were having a discussion about art today, and how different people define it. He's a photographer, and those guys are always trying to figure that one out. The whole issue is very gendered (men make art, women make craft), weirdly related to utility (utterly useless=art, functional=craft), and lately the emphasis is on making a statement, politically or sociologically. I told him that if I had wrapped my doll in dirty rags, left her face unpainted, hung her upside down, and titled the whole thing "Despair," it'd win a frickin' NEA grant.

    Ooh, Gita, tell Tiggy I said Thankymost!! I find her inspiring all the time. So do my girls, they alwys want the toys the Tiggness has. ;D I finally had to admit to myself that I've got the skills I need, I'm going to do things the way I do them regardless of whether it's " the right way," and I'm actually pretty good at it. Although I still trip on the last one.

    My Kevin says Hi to your Kevin!! How funny is that? :D

  4. So very true about the obtuseness of so called "Art Criticism" Fabulous documentary strange film by Orson Welles all about this subject, kind of a brilliant quirky film, which of course got panned by the "critics" but its a fascinating look at what has always been the issue in the arts - having things judged or critiqued by those who do not actually do.

    Tiggy is Delighteds that your girls luv her playsome toys ans whimsicals!

    Such an interesting discussion with your husband about art vs craft!

    We SOOOOO have to Meet!

  5. I've never seen that Welles film--I should check Netflix for it. With any luck it's digital somewhere I could watch it.

    Kevin and I have a lot of good conversations like that, and about other High Falutin' Intellectual Stuff. He's a photographer, book jacket designer, planetary scientist, and a reader, none of which he does for a living, which is probably why they're still fun for him. Sometimes the photography drives me nuts--like, mwaiting for the liught to be just right to take a scenic picture when we're on our way to or from somewhere--but damn, the results are wirth it.

    YES WE DOOOOOO!! And there will be much nattering! ALL SHALL LOVE US AND DESPAIR! *coff* I mean. Yeah, we totally need to meet!


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