More and more, I am becoming a fan of our shared humanity. The unpredictability of it all. The shadows behind every facade of perfection. The embarrassing truth.
In the beginning of August 2014, I was the recipient of a windfall. An opportunity to make art for a year. This was the first time since art school in 2003, that I have had a chance like this, to delve into art making with some real time. In my own art space, to boot.
Expectations soared, of course. After all, isn’t it the epitome of happiness, to be able to make art, almost full time? (I can hear the universe giggling in the background, while writing this.)
The work of an artist
What I had conveniently forgotten, of course, is the true work of an artist. To feel everything, experience all nuances of what is happening, to knock on inner doors or knock them down and drink deeply of the cup of life. Then, make art about it.
So, instead of feeling happy, suitably grateful, productive and inspired, I found myself resistant, edgy and defensive much more of the time than I thought proper.
All of my ideals of making art, all of the uplifted expectations of the artist’s life crashed head on with the raw loneliness of the studio, the reality of putting paint on canvas in a suffering world. To make art, instead of having a “real job”. There is a reason why we avoid empty space and big reaches of time. It all opens up the door to the question: Why am I here? Does anything I do matter? At all?
I asked myself repeatedly: If I feel like this while making art, what’s the point?
Vision rubbing against reality
What I’m coming to realize – excruciatingly slowly, again and again – is that there is no “there”. No perfection, no people who always succeed, no teachers who always walk their talk, no impeccable work communities, nothing finished. It makes me gag with disappointment, because the mixture of light and dark is so heady, hard to comprehend. But there is some relief, as well. Nothing has gone wrong. I can stay in this discomfort, aware of the temptation to seek solid ground and just hang out with the raw and tender moment.
It is the only place I can arrive at, is this moment. This is where my vision rubs against the reality of what is happening in me and around me. The big squeeze.
Where do your ideals rub against the reality of what is happening in your everyday life?