Arts in Society (AiS) Grantee Awarded $30k 2022 Cycle

Emergence of Being: This Thing, it lives inside you.

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The thing – your art – is living inside you, and it’s demanding something from you. It wants to be seen or heard or acknowledged in some way. It’s pushing from the inside out. And there’s this internal wrestling match that goes on, like an argument with yourself about existence. This essential part of my whole being was cut-off and causing me to suffer needlessly. Once I came to understand that I wasn’t living whole, I wanted to end the pain caused by self-annihilation, the pain that comes from cutting off pieces of our creative selves. I finally figured out that the silence of being cut-off is actually not a quiet place.

When you finally agree that Being creative is part of how you are made and you set about to let your art emerge, you run into obstacles that feel surprising. Still, the thing persists, whatever it is, that voice continues to clamor for your attention. And your art pursues you and asks you to go places you never thought you would go – both internally and externally.

The first step to becoming more of who I am was to call myself Artist in the absence of any external proof. I bought supplies, set myself up in the corner of a room, and made a hopeful start. Soon after, it felt hard to show up to do the work, and that was a confusing time. As we try to answer the call to express through our art, we become aware of it’s constructive and destructive power to heal or hurt ourselves and others. There were times I felt so desperate to get into the place where making my art would be possible, that I thought I would implode. I wanted everyone and everything (the destructive power at work) to get out of my way. Other times, I planned, made space (the constructive power at work), and showed up at the paper with time on my hands and supplies ready but found I could not put a mark on the paper.

When I first started exploring my art, in earnest, my husband was like, “Oh, look, isn’t that cute. My wife’s an artist”. But as time went on and I became possessed by this single idea of living coherently with myself and my art, that sentiment became something like, “Holy S4!T, my wife is an artist”. This is, in part, because that thing that I’d cut-off was no longer the loudest voice in my head. It was now the most booming disruptive voice in the room (and that’s a post for another day).

After a decade of becoming more of who I am in my life and art, I’ve learned to manage the Thing instead of letting it control me. “Managing” means listening to it and trusting my instincts about when, where, why, and how I produce my art. And, I no longer feel like a fraud because I’m no longer defrauding myself about my own identity. Most days, being Whole and living with Integrity of Self feels like winning the lottery.

Who are you? What does it mean, what can it mean, what will it mean?