My mind is a bit frazzled and fuzzy and I'm having a hard time focusing on what I really want to share with you this week. Truth be told, I'm in this strange place between shows feeling like I don't really have enough time to get the work done. And as a new mama, this is not a new feeling but it's not really a helpful feeling either.
So I am still trying to resolve that. Or to let that turn into a more-helpful feeling that might be accompanied with clarity or movement. You know, when you're muddling through and you finally have that moment of clarity and then you can just get behind the clarity and make the work? Yes, that's what I'm looking for and I fear it's coming too late. (Dear art gremlins-- please be kind.)
So this strange space between shows has me thinking about risk, vulnerability, and growth. I'm really thinking about the risks artists and designer and writers have to keep making. The leaps we must attempt to keep our work fresh and relevant and, well, meaningful. And I'm not talking about making it meaningful to critics or curators or publishers or institutions or potential buyers. Or even other artists.
No, I'm just talking about keeping it relevant to our selves. To the maker. So that we can look at the work and see our selves reflected. And this is not so different to any other meaningful work in our lives--parents, lovers, spouses, friends, or anything that is relational, really.
Alternatively, we can stop taking risks to push our own work into new territory and stay with that one show/ concept/ technique that really worked well (or was really well-received) and we can keep doing that one thing over and over and over. But, ugh... and then we just become another cog in another wheel even if this wheel is one we originally created. That's not what I'm looking for in my creative work. That's not what I'm looking for in my personal life either. So that's not my match.
I'm thinking about all of this and thinking about how much my own studio life has evolved since I walked away from my day job when I had my little one. How much I prefer the "slow design" or "slow craft" movement and values but the truth of freelancers is that we have to hustle. Yes, hustle. We have to hustle for the next gig while finishing one gig and beginning another.
I'm not complaining. I'm just acknowledging this hustle is new for me. And realizing my new place in it. And as I straddle various mediums and keep trying to move my own work forward, I am now straddling this new divide of freelance artist working to teach, make, organize, and collaborate and then I am straddling this world of new mama. Oh, the new mamas.
Folks ask me how I manage to finish so much creative work with a little one at home and I feel shocked. I feel really, really shocked. I feel like I'm not making as much work as I could be making. I look back to my previous life when I'd stay awake late into the night, or take a day off from my day job to get the creative work finished, or work all weekend. I'd pace my exhibitions or craft fairs or projects far apart and well aligned with my day job schedule.
I'm grateful for 11 hours of daycare each week but this places me, oddly, between the worlds of stay-at-home-mom and full-time-working-mom and I'm actually both and neither. I work from home part-time and like any parent, I'm a full-time parent. (This is an entire dissertation I probably will not ever write. But it's lengthy.)
Working until 2am just isn't an option anymore. The little one wakes by 6am regardless of what time mama goes to bed. But sometimes I feel like I'm straddling all this and all the pieces are still falling through and making little piles of all those little pieces on the studio floor. And sometimes it all feels graceful for a few moments like, "OMG! I'm actually doing this all and it's somehow all getting done" but then that eventually passes and something falls to the floor. Oy! Parents, you can understand? Freelancers, you can understand? Humans, you can understand?!?
But I just wanted to step out from behind the blogger curtain this week. There's been talk about social media and how it creates unrealistic images. And I just want to say, "Of course, it does! It's only one side of the story. It's only one poem in the entire poetry section of our lives. And it's edited. And some people do it professionally with sponsors and assistants. And it's just a fraction of our entire story--it's just one voice."
Mostly, I'm thinking about risks and failures and vulnerabilities. And trying to embrace all these things here in this post. And thinking how all of this is necessary for artistic growth. Or any growth. And sometimes we risk or fail in public and sometimes we have the comfort of doing it in private. But, regardless, we do it. We have to. It's the only way we can cultivate growth.
So this week my head and heart are full of all this thinking. But as I look at this week in my studio life I think the most satisfying parts are not in my studio at all. Not this week. This week, it's the peach lemon marmalade that now goes into the "best jam we ever made" category. (Thank you, Blue Chair Jam, minus one pound of recommended sugar). It's the Tillandsia bloom that literally made me gasp aloud as I reached over it to open the studio curtain. And my little boy with his toothy grin--he has this direct access to my heart that's unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's immediate and relevant and intimate and, well, vulnerable all at once.
Risks. That's what I'm thinking about. And vulnerability. And growth. And it's what I want to cultivate in my work. In my self. In my family. In the world. And sometimes that means trying something different. Are you with me? Okay, back behind my curtain and back to the studio I go.