17 Apr Accepting that I am an artist
For my very first blog entry, I wanted to share with you something very personal that I haven’t really talked about but is central to my experience as a creative individual, it has to do with accepting myself as an artist.
I think everyone’s journey to seeing themselves as an artist is very different and though it might seem unimportant, for me at least, it was a journey filled with self doubt and emotional distress.
To me, creativity has always been a grounding and pleasurable experience. My parents always tell me how from a young age I would always spend hours coloring and creating, dreaming up and imagining worlds of texture and color.
As I grew older, I loved everything that involved creating and art but slowly started noticing that my type of applied creativity wasn’t as accepted as certain expectations of what art should be. I had always worked from the abstract, focusing on color and texture without consideration of form. As a result, though I loved to make what I considered art, I found myself frustrated and defeated in classes when my drawings were as polished or as realistic as they needed to be for others. This made me feel ashamed to consider myself an artist, how could i consider myself one, when I couldn’t draw realistically? Unknown to me, this had a lasting effect on my relation to creativity and art. For a long time I hesitated calling myself an artist because I never felt like my work was worthy enough. It wasn’t pictorial and it wasn’t easy to understand. I worked in abstraccion because it calmed me to be removed from constraints of depiction.
Though it was clear to me that creating was my outlet, I never felt comfortable sharing what I made. The times that i did, i was always met with comments on how weird and strange my work was, which didn’t bother me, kbut it was always with a tone of “cooool, i don’t get it” and this further fueled my insecurities.
Once i reached university i still felt the impulse to create and the only way i felt i would be able to do this was if i took it on as a major. So very nervously and without telling anyone, I applied to the art practice department and was accepted. This was such a joyous moment for me because it somehow validated my work. These 4 years of studio classes were fun but they still left me feeling inadequate. I was in courses with people that had a very clear vision of their practice and had the skills to back it up. I felt like I was struggling to find my voice.
I remember being in my drawing class, which I dreaded at first because it brought up all of my insecurities regarding being an artist. But this professor had such an unconventional and expanded approach to drawing that it was one of the first moments that I felt seen in my doubts. I distinctly remember her coming over and looking at my work and she stopped and looked at me and in such an honest and direct way told me to give myself permission to be an artist. To go full on in and stop constricting myself based on what i thought something should look like, to go full on in and make my own representation, however it satisfies me. I remember just staring at her, not being able to say anything because I was moments away from crying. No one had ever told me that, no one had ever given me the permission to be my full sel in art. Although it still took me years to truly embody myself as an artist, that was a turning point for me.
This conversation impacted me in so many ways for years to come. This was something that I wholeheartedly tried to convey later on in life when I became an art teacher. To encourage exactly student’s desires for exploration, to go beyond what others expected their work to look like.
All of this to say that it took me years to accept myself as an artist because of what I thought an artist’s practice should look like. Now I reflect on this process and I am still learning so much. Iam abl to contextualize y experience within larger discussions of societal factors that have to o with
Being from a lower income community where arts funding and access is limited, the lack of arts literacy and exposure by way of social and economic capital. O also the arts being seen as something superficial, a hobby, not something that could be a career path. The blatant Disregard for the therapeutic and socioemotional impact that the arts cna have on people’s development
It is sometimes a painful acknowledgement of how creative individuals get sidelined and discouraged from following their creativity.
I consider myself extremely fortunate and privileged that i was able to forge my artistic path and continue my development as an artist. Though at times I still have trouble allowing myself to share thoughts or experiences, I am releasing all expectations of what I think my work should look like. It’s an ongoing journey that ties into self acceptance, courage and knowing that at the end of the day we have to give ourselves permission to just create in the ways that we need to.
So I leave you with these reflections:
- How are you actively engaging yourself as a creator and artist beyond what is expected of you?
- In what ways are you creative?
- How have other’s expectations affected the way you create or how you consider yourself a creator?
I am a creative being and I allow myself to express this wholeheartedly