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Coin Flip

What brought me here today:

I’ve touched on the subject of relocation (moving) at least twice in recent posts. Some readers may feel as though I’m being purposefully coy with regard to specifics, such as where we will be relocating to. I’m not attempting to create a cloud of creative, magical, mystery about any of this. I simply prefer to keep some things to myself. Until I feel  people need to know anything about it.

In this day and age, we all share so much of our daily lives with complete strangers through social media platforms. It might seem odd to want to actually keep some parts of the personal and private parts of your life, well…private. I’m not usually someone who you might think wishes to keep some things private. But I do.

Two sides of the same coin:

I have two public faces. One being an art teacher, and the other being an artist. These two public faces overlap quite a bit in the Venn diagram. Art teacher and artist are both performative. Both intended for a specific length of time and audience. And each of them draw inspiration and motivation from my personal life.

Art teacher:

As an art teacher, I’m extremely (over-the-top) extroverted. My passion for the subject I teach is something that I do not attempt to contain. I talk openly and honestly with my students about a variety of subjects. Including my life and experiences in and outside of the art studio space. Creating art can make a person (child and adult) feel emotionally vulnerable. I want to convey to my students that they are in a safe space to explore their own creativity. Sharing who I am as a person can help create the trust that is needed for this space to be created.

When I teach art, I am creating a lesson, an experience, a tutorial that is geared specifically to the persons I am teaching. Minute changes and course corrections are made-on-the-fly while I am teaching. These actions are to facilitate a better overall experience for the person(s) I am teaching. These changes are possible because of my own efficacy as an art teacher, as well as an artist.

Artist:

My creative focus as an artist is on the artwork I am currently creating. And the artwork that I want to create. Unlike teaching art, I create my own artwork alone. I spend hours on end hunched over my work table sewing, sanding, cutting, shaping, and drawing. Most of the time, I would forget to eat, bathe, or sleep if it weren’t for my husband.

As a working artist, I utilize online spaces to market my artwork. You’re reading a blog post I’m writing for my website blog. There is a certain amount of ‘putting myself out there’ and wanting/needing enough attention from people wholly unconnected with myself so that I can make generate funds from the selling of my artwork.

I do share some of my artistic process online, but not all of it. The photos of my process are curated, allowing people to have a glimpse of how I create. But not the entire process. I rarely show my own face online. Again choosing to curate. I’ve never been comfortable having my photo taken. Any why would you want to look at me when you could be looking at the artwork I just created?!

Similarities:

I share much of who and what I am as an art teacher with my students. I also share a great deal of who and what I am as an artist with people in online forums like this blog. My students know what I look like because they’ve actually spent time with me. Those who know me online might be able to pick me out of a line-up if pressed on it. I would wager a guess that they would better be able to recognize my artwork instead of my face.

Times and places:

Part of the public face of being an art teacher is being in the classroom, face-to-face with the students. I talked earlier in this post about creating a safe place in which students could be vulnerable. I must be face-to-face with students to create this space. They need to be able to read my face and body language to make assessments of me as a person.

As an artist, I’m the one being vulnerable. I create the artwork. Share some, but not all of the process. I detail in writing what mental and emotional things I’m working through in one of my pieces. Then put it online and have the audacity to ask people to give me money for it.

My artwork is the physical manifestations of my own vulnerabilities. It’s my daily therapeutic mediation that helps me to keep myself intact. I suppose that there are some people who only see the surface levels of my artwork. They don’t need to know that there is anything deeper than the surface level presented to them. And that’s okay. But I’m reminding you, my artwork isn’t just a bunch of cute dollies. It never was.

My anonymity:

Just because a person is a student of mine in the art classroom, or someone follows me through online social media, does not mean that they are entitled to know everything about me. I keep hearing the line “one must put up barriers to keep oneself in tact” from the Rush song Limelight.

Granted, Neil Peart was talking about what it’s like to be famous and having people who he doesn’t know think that he’s their best friend. Because the lyrics he wrote spoke to them on a like, really deep level. I had an experience a number of years ago in which a woman whom I had never met seemed to know a lot about me personally and my artwork. And I had no idea who she was. None. It scared the bejesus out of me. I couldn’t get away from her fast enough.

I don’t have any problems keeping things like where I will be moving to in the next month to myself with regard to my online, social media facing artist side.

So, what now?

As always, back to work. I have a lot do accomplish before the move. And that does include making a little more art before we go.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Tuesday,

 

2 thoughts on “Coin Flip

  1. Agree with you entirely.

    I do training and some very public presentations.
    I tend to be quite honest in talking about how I think and see the world and make reference to my experiences if I think it will help convey what is needed.

    That doesn’t mean I think strangers need to know everything!

    Keep your life as private as you can and still be present in the world.

    I enjoy following your thoughts and concerns as I have done the “textile artists don’t get respect ” thing myself. Sharing elements of your process helps people to understand that it is not “magic” or “instant”. I hope it builds appreciation of your fun work!

  2. What has always bothered me regarding the marginalization of textile artists and other artists who use textiles, embroidery, sewing, etc., is that the marginalization feels as through it’s also used to exclude women. Many women artists in the past who wished to attend schools to study art, were shunted into textile and fiber arts programs because it was something that was useful and more feminine. Anni Alber and Sophie Taeber-Arp (who died way too soon), come immediately to mind. Sonia Delaunay, one of my favourite artists turned to textiles as a way to make money to help support her family. Sewing, knitting, weaving. They’re all somehow designated as acceptable female areas of creative expression, while still being tied to a nurturing, maternal-like archetype. And as such, they are deemed less-than by the greater Art World where the male Picasso-like monolith rules.

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