Monday, April 16, 2007

I wasn't Born to Weave

Immediately after the exhibit, I started questioning why artists exhibit their work, and asked anyone who would indulge me. I remember getting a simple but an immensely satisfying solution from Jay Farnsworth, but I still don't have the answer, though I don't regret exhibiting.

Two weeks ago I went to see Lloyd, because something started to bother me tremendously. We've all heard artists say they were born to paint/sculpt/write/sing/dance, haven't we? Well, I never felt like I was born to weave. I like weaving, and I think I'm doing ok for the number of years I've put in so far, but I haven't felt that this is my vocation; in fact, I never felt like I had a vocation.

I remember during my days in a convent school, even though I didn't want it, I was frustrated I didn't get the calling. I knew that until I found my vocation, life remained diluted, meaningless, and on hold. And I still believe a vocation comes wrapped in soft white lights, angelic female voices, and even therapeutic aroma. I don't mind working hard to be good at it, but at some point, I would like to know if this is it, or not.

So I went to ask, well, complain to, Lloyd that I wasn't... real. The thought came about because I knew I didn't exhibit my work as representing anything of me the person; my cloth, as nice as I think some of them are, are not me, but merely what I make, what I do, a culmination of my technical knowledge and aesthetic preferences. As intimidating as it was to exhibit, I never felt my shawls were some mini-me's, or that my person was in some ways on display for scrutiny. (Except for my audacity to have a solo exhibit at my skill/knowledge level; or more specifically, to have an exhibit of shawls woven on all on straight draw.)

And so when I hear artists console me about how hard the life of art-making is, how we are constantly putting ourselves on show, I feel like a fake, that I'm pretending to belong to a club to which I'm not invited.

Yikes.

4 comments:

  1. Meg,

    My heart goes out to you. I can console, but I don't have a damned answer.
    I have beenvan artist all my life, and now I think I have been just selfish and self interested. I have always hoped my struggles as illustrated in my work would transcend my self absorbtion.
    I was at an opening of my work about a year ago. This was really a very revealing moment to me... a group of attractive women were quite taken by my work. Wow!-one would think. They asked me to explain my work to them. Really.
    I didn't have a clue as to what to say. It was right there in front of them... or was I in reality just an obtuse phoney? I really don't know.
    Lately my work baffles even me. The good news is I am still making it... just not showing.

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  2. Thanks for sharing that, Felix. I was mildly surprised because you must have been in the business for a long while so I would have thought these conversations would be... on auto-pilot, as it were. Was it the first time you got stuck? Was it caused by the attractiveness or the number of such women, or something to do with your attitude towards your art?

    Me, I've moved on now to actively avoiding weaving now. I don't understand myself at all. Before weaving, when I read artists' biographies, I thought artists were flamboyant drama queens (or depressed) as more or less promotional purposes, or because they lived such undisciplined lives. While I, too, lead quite a undisciplined life, I see now that the emotional ups and down may have something more to do with... waiting for something from within to want to get out.

    Today, I think I'll just make myself go through the motion and do something weaverly and see what happens.

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  3. I think that a lot of artists and artisans go through this kind of anguish. I get depressed when things aren't going the way I had envisioned -- which is a lot of the time. I make mistakes that I don't see until I'm well into the weaving of a piece, or the whole wonderful idea falls flat on its face. I'm not sure anyone was born to do any one thing in particular. Some people have a personality that drives them to turn their whole lives into the fulfillment of a passion. Some folks are more balanced and see that there is more than one thing in life.

    Not sure that this will help. But my thoughts are with you. -- Beryl

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  4. Thank you, Beryl.

    What I'm afraid of is that when we were kids, my parents allowed us to take this-and-that lessons, but with the exception of English lessons for me, they always let us pick and choose and what we wanted to learn almost at whim. So we'd give it a go for a year or three, and then we moved on. So, on the one hand, it's given us glimpses into lots of interesting things in life, but on the other hand, all three of us are worried we don't have the ability to stick to things.

    So I have these doubts about my motives for sticking to weaving, on the other hand I don't want to give up on it, especially after taking so long to get to where I am now.... Gee, I'm ranting so much I don't even know what I'm thinking just now. I think I better go measure a warp!

    Thanks for stopping by, Beryl.

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