A to Z: background
( Sorry. I was sick last Friday. So this is the first of two "B" entries. I will catch up soon - since I have so many letters and only so many weeks...)
a : the conditions that form the setting within which something is experienced b (1) : the circumstances or events antecedent to a phenomenon or development (2) : information essential to understanding of a problem or situation c : the total of a person's experience, knowledge, and education.
When I made the original list, 'Background' wasnt on it. But it has been on my mind of late. How did I get here? How am I a sum of all my experiences? How has my work has evolved over time? How have friends and colleagues of mine enter the creative life - early or late? How did a particular artist get to where they are now? What is their background, experience, training? Where did they start? When did they discover their path? Hard work? Knowing the right people? Vagaries of fate?
(One element of my musings delves in to craft vs art. Artist vs craftsperson. Art training or self taught? For now, that is something I am keeping to myself. Its a treacherous topic at times. I am not Pandora to open that particular box today. )
But to honor this curiosity - to look back on the road I have traveled... I thought I would revisit parts of my background.
I was making and drawing quite a lot - as I remember it - as a child. I was encouraged, moderately. I never had lessons of any type, but my family was receptive and encouraging. I had quite a bit of freedom to explore in High school. Painting, enameling, ceramics... and the freedom to work independently. While that thrilled me no end - my interest and creative drive that earned me the freedom, at times it meant that I was missing out on the fundamentals. I wasn't honing my drawing skills in still life compositions, I wasn't finessing my paint handling abilities. And while that may have been a bit of a detriment as I entered my freshman year as an Art major at Skidmore - I had chosen a Liberal Arts college to nurture the Renaissance woman in me. Strong in the visual arts, but not to the exclusion of literature, history, mythology and the like. I could make up for lost time.
I thrived in the art building, my second home. I was an art geek, working long hours, switching from one studio to the next to complete work. I had the foundation classes in design, drawing and painting. I designed and printed textiles, I threw pots and sculpted, I wove tapestries, I fabricated and cast jewelry in metal. I studied in London; painting and photography. I sampled Classics, mythology, women's studies, I devoured Art history tomes, and nibbled on poems. (Can I admit this was the era before the Internet? That puts it in perspective, huh? ) How wonderful to live and breathe, and sleep and eat art and Art History?!
My Senior show - the culmination of my learning and experience... my best artistic offerings to date - Paintings, a suite of photos, and Celtic inspired pieces, brooches and a bracelet. Very much influenced by my time in England, but that is another post!
I dont paint much anymore. For years I thought it was my medium. I was teaching Art full time, and not doing much of my own work...
I applied to Grad school. And I was rejected - twice. The Universe tried to make it clear, very clear, that oil paint wasnt my chosen medium. The rejection from the painting program at MICA led me to the Ceramics studio. And in a summer of throwing, sculpting, glazing, and firing - my first shrine came to be.
( Not technically the first, but an early ceramic shrine from the MICA years...)
Thank you rejection. I am very happy working in mixed media - with all the materials I could ever think to incorporate. I no longer need turpentine, and linseed oil, and brush cleaner, and canvas stretcher bars. I am glad you led me to this place.
I am proud of my experiences and my accomplishments. I am thankful that I recognized my creative self in my youth, and that it was recognized in me by others. Recognized, nurtured, pursued... I value my college study immensely. I have a strong foundation, an informed perspective, a wealth of experience. I have been creating, making art, studying art my entire life. I respect the artists who come to art later - switching careers, finding a new path, and embarking on it as an adult. But it is a very different place to be, to speak from, to create from - when you have been seeing, thinking, studying, doing... for your whole adult life. This creative path, a creative self isnt who or what I have come to be. It is where I have always been.