Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Growing Pains: Growing as an Artist

Where Am I Going?

Lately, I have been struggling with the question of "Where Am I Going?" By lately, I mean for the last ten years or so! There are times, like now, that I feel I don't fit in anywhere. I learned long ago, that I don't fit into the business/corporate world. I've also learned that by my chosen medium, fabric, I don't fit into the art world (yet?), but with my contemporary style I also don't fit into the quilt world.
I started The Fiber Nation as a way to try and form a bridge between the traditional quilt and the art quilt world. Though I'm not sure that it qualifies as a "career" as I make no money, and am not sure how far it can go or how to take it there.

It's times like now, that I am thankful for this blog, where I can work through these thoughts. While I may not always take the advice given to me through comments - there is something cathartic for me in just "putting it out there."

I mentioned in the last post that I have started a new series, that is political and humanitarian based. This is a scary thing for me to try - despite my putting personal reflections onto my website, I still censor myself quite a bit. But to try and make a piece of art, that reflects me but censors the "total" is not a possibility it seems. In my art, it's all or nothing when it comes to expressing myself.

Up until now, my pieces have just been "pretty" or "cute". Sometimes there are elements in it that are expressing something I am dealing with or needing to "get out" but for the most part no one would ever be able to discern what meaning might be hidden withing an image of a wetland!

I find this a good experience right now. I am learning that aspect of art, that is so prevalent to artists, that of discomfort. Art can be entwined with discomfort, from the physical to the emotional to the mental aspects. I believe this is a huge part of my growing into my "grownup artist" within me. I've always been an extremely independent thinker, and rarely have troubles expressing myself when I see something unjust and unfair. Why would I think silencing that part of myself in my art would push me further along?

While I love my family and friends, there comes a time when self has to be the priority. I'm coming in to that now. My artwork needs to grow - it's struggling to break out of its infancy and assert itself as independent! My inner voice is violently calling me to let it out. 

There is a reason that I have followed Susan Shie for so long - she expresses her world views and opinions so openly and honestly - but avoids being garish and confrontational. Her works are politically charged - yet you never hear of controversy surrounding her works at quilt shows.

Part of me wonders if it's simply that Susan is working through her own feelings on the matters/topics - rather than trying to change someone else's mind about the issue. Perhaps I will try to approach my pieces in the same way. Approach them as a therapeutic way, rather than a protest way.

Thanks for listening to my rambles! No matter how old you are, sometimes there are growing pains!


mary said...

i am so with you on this feeling.
not knowing the next step or where exactly i fit in in the art world
hopefully the fog will clear soon for us both!

cindyrquilts said...

I'm there too! Artist they say to me? What about food? And yet, I can't bring myself to go back to the corporate world. I wish it were less of a challenge and more "come as you are". Thanks for "putting it out there".
Signed another fabric friend who totally gets you.

Susan Shie said...

Hi Stephanie. Thanks for writing about my work in your post about finding your balance and voice for social commentary in your art.

I think it's just luck that my work hasn't been protested yet in a big way. I think I hide the political stuff pretty well in my work, by making it all in the small writing and having the images, except for obvious peace symbols, etc, be pretty non political. My idea is to not hit people over the head with my opinions, but if they READ what I've written, they'll find lots of strong comments and historical facts there.

I've been censored twice that I can think of. One of those times I won the argument by putting a peace symbol over a swastika (which was there to protest George Bush.) It started my Peace Cozy series, which means I put one of those tiny peace symbol patches on each piece I finish, and may do that the rest of my life.

Anyhow, we ARE between the art world and the quilt world, and it's a good place to be in a radical sense. Just not in a money sense.

Keep the faith. You'll find your own way to express what you need to. Good luck. And thanks again, Susan

Jill Robinson said...

I was at an Els Van Baarle workshop recently. One of her favorite quotes is:

"It's an artist's job to get lost. If you always know where you are, you have missed the point."

I like that. Sometimes getting lost is exactly the right place to be.

Enjoyed your blog!

Jill Robinson

Judy Martin said...

This is a very honest and thought provoking post.

I think it's important to figure out who you are and what you want to communicate. Just writing that down sometimes helps. Figuring out how to do that visuallly is something else.

Good luck with it all. This is a life long quest. Robert Genn's most recent newsletter talks about it quite well.