I lived in Jackson, MS for a short time in the 80’s. Although I wasn’t there in the heat of the summer, I noticed that the people of Jackson moved at a different pace than I was accustomed. My husband and I both asked around. “Why does everyone move so slow?” One voice remains in my mind, a thick, molasses-slow Southern drawl, “It’s ’cause of the heat.” I must say, I just didn’t get it then, but this summer, this particularly hot summer, I think I am beginning to understand.
So I’m blaming the heat for my sluggishness, my frequent naps and lack of drive. I have an exciting list of goals with deadlines and am moving at the pace of my great grandmother to get them accomplished. But my mind is still plugged in. I suppose this is the summer for pondering. Let’s all sit in our rockers on the front porch for a spell…
My greatest current ponder is about the true intent of some people. This group of some includes both artists and preachers among other shifty characters. I’ll focus on the former so as not to mix too many metaphors.
Now I haven’t always thought of myself as an artist. I don’t have a degree in the arts, but rather in accounting. When I first began my journey into creativity, I suppose I was wearing my rose colored glasses. But I had every reason to. Almost every person that I met, instructors and students alike, seemed so warm, friendly, generous and kind. I felt so very encouraged.
My first shocker was when a mixed media piece of mine was juried into a local art show. When I dropped off my painting, I was treated with disdain. To the curator of the gallery in which the show held, my piece was obvious crap and my experience lacking. I found this highly discouraging, but pushed forward.
Second shocker was being called out for copying a class that I had taken. While there were similarities to the other class, and I was using a technique I had just learned, I had not thought at all that I was copying. When confronted, I could easily see the other instructor’s point of view as she wasn’t familiar with the prior classes I’d taught, but then I was verbally attacked in an email by a friend of hers. These gals were from the same group that I had declared my tribe. When I tried to share my feelings about what had just happened, my words were dismissed as “drama.” All of a sudden, my tribe didn’t feel so safe.
And most recently, there is a blog post floating out there written by a professional artist. In the post, she makes some very relevant points about her topic, but does it in such a way as to instill a feel of exclusion and disdain for those outside of the “professional” realm. I will not refer or link to the article for a couple reasons. One is that I do not want it to receive any more traffic or attention than it is already getting which seems to be her goal. Two, if anyone tries to point out any holes in her post or address the underlying feel of contempt which is conveyed, she comes back with a comment as to how the person has missed the point and gives a detailed example as to how it was missed. In other words, negative or “other” responses are not truly being heard.
I’m learning so much through all my pondering. My biggest “aha” is to take off the rose colored glasses. In any group, some are bound to have a different approach to life than my own. I often make the mistake of assuming we all have the same end goal of sharing inspiration and art for the greater benefit of individual growth. I guess the hippie in me wants us all to be one big happy family.
Now that I’ve had a few bumpy experiences, I kind of wish that I could have do-overs. I have a wise artist friend that has assured me that some of what I experienced will happen again, so I guess I will get another shot at navigating the frustrating. I think next time I may be better prepared to see the other person’s intent rather than trying to understand what the heck just happened. And as for the last example of the “professional artist,” I know that there are so many professionals that are truly an encouragement and inspiration to others of us that are still a bit knock-kneed. I am so thankful for the beautiful group of strong artists I have been so fortunate to encounter, many of which have grown to be dear friends and mentors.
It is them I desire to emulate. It is that group that spurs me on to push deeper into my own artistic voice. Thanks so much, ya’ll. xxoo