I had two things happen this past week, and that they happened at the same time, and are related, is what gives them a fascinating ~ and satisfying ~ juxtaposition.
First, last month I came across and joined a FB group for assemblage art and artists. What is assemblage art you may be asking? This means that people create art from found and discarded objects. There's lots of gluing, occasionally welding, and sometimes paint, and there are some amazing creations in this group of 100,000 artists! It's repurposing at its finest. We have so much stuff in our society at this point in time, it's actually kinda gross. Yet there are these brilliant artists out there keeping all this stuff out of landfills and making art from it. It's so inspiring!
This week I jumped in to the fray of it all and posted two different finished pieces of mine at two different times. I was a little nervous, to have my work out there in such a large forum, for so many others to see, but at the same time proud of myself for putting my work out there into that bigger art world. And yet, both of my posts were deleted for not meeting the guidelines of the group. What?
I learned from the first post, of my butterfly book (seen above, on left), that my altered books are considered "mixed media" (they involved not strictly found objects ~ I glued in some paper and words) and so it did not qualify as "assemblage art." My second piece I felt surely was appropriate, the one of Mary in her portal (above, center), because everything was found art, even the box I used as the basis of the piece. But it was also removed because ~ when I read the fine print ~ it contained "religious" items. Now, I'm not even religious, and never mind the fact that there is an alien head right above Mary, she herself is verboten apparently, no matter who she's hanging out with.
My gosh. So many rules and parameters, which I find highly ironic, because in my mind, the very act of creating art is to go beyond the limits, and the rules, and beyond anything that resembles conformity. Art is actually supposed to be about questioning, exploring, blurring the lines of what is expected, or accepted. Not all art, for sure. But a lot of art does this. I do this. I AM this.
But to be honest, having my posts deleted, well, it stung. I felt rejected. Not just my art, but me. I took it personally and felt misunderstood. I felt like I wasn't good enough for the cool kids art club. It's an old, old wound, not feeling seen, not being liked, not being enough. Ugh. Such an old story of mine.
But somehow, and pretty quickly (for me), I turned it around. I realized, this may not be the group for me. Maybe, just maybe, I need to be part of group that doesn't have so many rules. I need to be in a place that actually questions the rules, that challenges the very idea that "art" is supposed to ever be only one thing. Like I said, that's who I AM at my core, questioning everything, never assuming, EVER, that there is only one way to do anything in life, art included. Nevertheless, there are still some amazing and inspiring pieces of art in the group, so I may stick around for a little while longer.
The second thing that happened this week is that both the butterfly book and the Mary portal pieces (along with a third altered book, that I hadn't even shared publicly yet, above on right) sold immediately! Now let's be clear, I've never had that happen before. So that in and of itself was so mind-boggling amazing to me. What a fantastic thing to happen! I was pinching myself. But that it happened on the heels of "rejection" for those very same pieces? Not gonna lie ~ it was pretty damn satisfying. Someone saw value in those pieces, they weren't worried about rules or parameters, they just liked them. I didn't have to do anything to them or change them into something different. There were appreciated in and of themselves.
Life lesson here folks.
So, what makes us ~ or our creations ~ worthy? Who gets to decide? I'm thinking that being true to ourselves is the only way. We can try to fit in, to adhere to the rules and fit in the boxes. Or, we can be our best, truest version of us, and that there are people that are out there just waiting for that version to shine through.
I'd like to think that I can keep this is mind moving forward for the rest of my artistic days (and in my life in general) ~ that one person's rejection is someone else's appreciation. I know it's not so simple, that the wobble will happen again, but I'm hopeful that it will be less and less as I continue along this path, and as I become older and (in-theory) wiser. Because the satisfaction has to come from within, right? People will like my art, or not, they will like me, or not. But the most important part of this is: do I value my own work? Do I value me? And you know what? I do. I love my creations. And, I love who I am. And that's a pretty terrific place to be. One that's been a long time coming. One that I absolutely do not take for granted.
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