I DON'T KNOW!
It's hard work, it's relentless work, it is financially draining, it robs you of friendships and other relationships, it is psychically wrenching, and often leaves you feeling totally naked and exposed and, it's addictive!
A little black girl growing up in Philadelphia, the youngest of three children, living with a twice-divorced mom and two siblings, 4 and 8 years older than I and the children of the previous marriage, I tried to understand the world around me. I didn't know what it meant that I made pictures, I just did. Not on nice paper or in sketch books (no one purchased them for me), but in notebooks that were meant for other class work. As time passed I took myself to the local playground where they offered some art. I even won a blue ribbon. No one in my house cared about this as long as I was not in trouble. So I rolled along, being a "good girl" but feeling I was also an artist.
I am sharing a statement I wrote years ago because it struck me as pertinent, especially in these stressful times, to remember the choice we make in taking the title "artist" and in hopes that you will share your stories as well.
Of course there are hundreds of books about the urge to be creative, but who can tell those stories best are those who live it. And as we know, there is not ONE WAY to be an artist; artists are all different!
Think how much it might help a young kid or teenager or even a young adult to know that we all feel uncertain, we struggle everyday about whether what we do is worthwhile to ourselves, let alone anyone else! And that good results often take hard work. But hard work does not guarantee anything.
I would love for you to share your story so I can post it to my blog so please add your story to the comments. If you prefer, you can email me and I can put it on another post.
As a little girl I just wanted to organize my mother's house. I desired beauty and did what I could to accomplish it. I would go into my mother's room and arrange the perfumes, makeup and jewelry that sat on her dresser. I dusted the perfumes and other items that were, then, set down using good spacing to show off their lovely forms and colors. In our living room, I would diligently fluff and carefully place the contrasting, brilliantly hued pillows that adorned my mother's golden couch - strategically. This couch sat before heavy red drapes and on a mid-value violet carpet. I wanted each of the pillows just so, the red one next to the green one and not the gold one. The ugly ones were hidden in the back. I opened the drapes a certain degree to allow in the right amount of light. My mother received the same scrutiny whenever possible.
I did all this by instinct with no supervision. A divorced parent of three, my mother worked as a city employee and as an opera singer! I am the youngest and was raised by committee. As I did not misbehave much, I was often left to my own devices. I made neat the garden's grass and trimmed the rose bushes. I swept the front steps and polished our silver plate. I moved the furniture (as much as I could) to achieve the balance I knew it needed.
My vow to become an artist was made to Linda Chambers, my best friend at the time, in her bedroom in Philadelphia when I was still in elementary school.
As an artist my quest remains organization and beauty. I think I have always had the need to understand the human soul. For me, a pictorial analysis is natural. The first major painting I made in college was in response to my grandmother's death. The toll taken on my mother and the grief thrust upon us all had to be transformed to a tangible existence. My grandmother's death was the impetus for the painting. I understood..., and I also understood that the work affected other people who had no connection with my grandmother. The loss was a universal experience.
The themes that I continue to investigate include death (loss), love, joy, trust and other human mysteries and relationships, how we work them out with each other and our environment.
I am also quite taken with human protective camouflage. I believe we wear many "faces" to help us cope with our lives. I think about our many masks (disguises) and through my work I am aware that the truth is just beneath the surface. I hope to help people think about that. I hope that visual articulation of these concepts will make a difference. I am compelled to do the work. My hope, aside from making credible, esthetically viable works is to gain insight and truth via the process.
This is a statement I no longer use. It was more for me than anyone else, I think. If you need help writing a statement here are two sources :
Above: "Imagined in Marble: Found Myself"
Top of page: "Imagined in Marble: Figure on Pointe"
by Joyce Owens