Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I've Learned Since Last Year

My first art piece of 2015 -- a beaded portrait of Karen O (lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) titled They Don't Love You Like I Love You, part of a series I'm calling IDOL EYES.


What haven't I learned since last year?
2014 was a big year for me. I decided to prioritize my art career and it took me to some great places -- the most thrilling being that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I found a path in the right direction. I've got focus, motivation, excitement for what I am doing and deep down it feels right.

Can I get a  HELL YES  for that??!

As much as I avoid lingering in the past, I have found that a little self-reflection on where I used to be can be a great indicator on how far I've come. If you're familiar with me or this blog, you get the idea that I like to dabble in a variety of crafts and mediums. I've put on a lot of different shoes in my short adult life and a lot of them have already been tossed off or buried at this point. The ONE THING that I have been very dedicated to is journaling. I've been consistent with my writing since I graduated college in '08 and started this journey into figuring out a career path. In fact, my journal has been a continuing source of inspiration for my art -- it's where I tend to find the fragments of words and thoughts that turn into artworks. 

One rando thing I started doing, would be to open up my journal to today's date last year or years prior and see what I was doing then. (It's amazing the things we forget!) What I discovered in this little game is how powerfully it has shown me just how far I have come. It's easy to get wrapped up in your plans for today, this month, this year, and forget how hard you work just to simply be where you are today. There's an entry in 2009 where I announce to myself that I want to be a textile artist. I say I don't know what that looks like or what kind of work I want to make, I just know that that's the title I want. I was blown away when I saw that because  1). I had no memory of wishing for that and 2). I'm there now. That dream I wished for came true. Or maybe more like, I made it happen. It gets me thinking about what I can wish for today that consciously or subconsciously I can work towards in the years to come. Sometimes I get wrapped up in developing a business plan with clearly-stated goals (not easy) but sometimes if you take the first few steps, you can be led to beautiful possibilities that your mind hadn't even thought to go.

Moral I'm getting from all this? 

I should do now, worry less about defining the big picture, trust the process, appreciate how far I've come and look forward to the open doors that I didn't see coming.

Watch Him As He Goes (Dave Grohl), 2008. Back in my Foo Fighters phase (hey, can't say no to a good beard!) 

My year started out with one of those unknown doors swinging in my direction. When I built my website, I put all work I had on there that reflected my self-appointed title of textile artist. Not much at the time, but I did have these beaded portraits that I made in school and had always enjoyed. I hadn't thought much about getting back into beading, it was another one of those crafts that I had dabbled in at one point in my life and then hadn't picked back up. 

I Would Die 4 U (Prince), 2013. Bow down to him, children! (Still in my Prince phase :)

Then here comes the door a-swinging...

Remember how I made that piece for a poster competition? Welllll, one of the reasons I wanted to enter something was because the competition was being hosted by the best gallery in Greensboro, and probably one of the best in North Carolina. And I thought maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to put my name in front of their faces. Really, I was going for the prize money but there was also a little voice in the back of my head that told me this was a good move. And I was right. The fabulous lady who runs the shop in front of the gallery saw my knitted piece, sought out my website, and found my beaded portraits. Turns out that Greenhill Gallery had an upcoming self-portrait exhibit and she thought these pieces would be perfect for the shop at that time.  !!!!!!!!!  

Those eyes, Frida! 

We met, she provided me with wonderful words of encouragement and gave me the idea to build shadow boxes for these lil' felt pieces, along with giving me motivation to build them, a place to hang them, and (painful but oh so helpful) a deadline. Like a 2-week one!! I also knew I needed to make one new beaded piece to give myself a good number. 3 small ones and 1 larger one. Frida actually was sewn to a dress for my senior fashion collection and I made the decision to cut her from the cloth. The dress proved to be impossible to hang in an art setting and it was so small and it had sat in a trunk for years collecting weird smells. She needed a new life.

 So this all added to the super speed of last month but I couldn't be happier with how these turned out. Thankfully, Adam was willing to build me some last minute frames and I slowly got better with sanding and finishing. Seriously, how are you supposed to get a good lacquer finish out of a spray can in 35 degree weather?? I scraped by.

OBSESSED with how this matte black turned out behind Frida. We added a block behind the felt to give them a floating look and have them hanging from a nail. That way they can still be removed and held. I couldn't bear the idea of making fiber art that can't be touched. And I winced every time someone mentioned velcro.

After all the hustle and bustle of getting these finished, I realized that I was fulfilling another unspoken dream: to get a chance to show at Greenhill.  Well, I really want to get in the gallery but the shop is still a very respectful place to be, and now it's only a matter of time before I'm in the big room :) Mind you, I wasn't just blowing on dandelions and sitting on my butt, I've worked consistently to put myself in the way of influential people and places. What I'm saying is, I think it's okay to not have supremely-defined goals but if you put yourself out there in ways, dreams can come to you. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes..

"The harder I work, the better luck I have."

 SIDE NOTE: I jumped for joy when I found this single, wild daffodil blooming in the wreckage of what used to be my wooded backyard. I thought that their great shoveling machines would've all but destroyed their vast rooted network. They used to bloom all over the place. I know that this is a good sign for the coming year and all that was destroyed was not totally lost.
I can't wait for spring.

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