Thursday, May 28, 2009

brushing off the chips

Sigh...on the wings of my last post about the academic approach to art and dialogue and about having past student peers judging my work, comes tonight's awkward interaction at Home Depot. I was there to buy a masonry bit and screws to put up my last piece (YAY!!) for the opening tomorrow night. It went something like this:

cool ex-student (who, btw, was one of the hip students at the Univ. though, he is a good artist, I have to say.which makes it worse.:).): Oh, hi...what are you getting?

me:hi, I have to mount my last piece onto a concrete wall and need some special

cool ex-student: yeah, I'm doing some framing. Why are you hanging pieces?

I'm going to interrupt this story for a moment to say that on the Facebook "event" I created for the show, he was one of the people who responded as yes, they are coming. Okay, back to the conversation.

me: it's my last piece for my show.

c es: what show?

me: (I just sort of look at him puzzled for a second)

c es: oh. yeah. I think I remember receiving something about that.(trails off...)

me: right. so this is my last piece and I am glad to be almost done...

c es: so, um, I think I am going to be out of town tomorrow. so, um. um. I don't think I'll make it. um, have fun and good luck....(trails off again and kind of looks at the ground)

me: that's okay. you have fun on your trip. bye.

Maybe he really is leaving town? I don't think so. Suddenly I am in the 7th grade again and someone is passing a note in front of me that is about me and how dorky I am. Now, this is my blog, and I guess I should be really confident and promote my work and talk about how great it all is... but, well, this is my blog and you get to see the real and very sensitive me. I have never been the kid who was popular and didn't understand how to be a "cool outcast" until high school. But even being a cool outcast took more effort and work than I could manage for long. Before that, I was the painfully shy girl who always managed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time when she did finally get the guts to speak.

so, suddenly I am a rejected 7th grader again, standing in Home Depot, wondering what I did wrong. Then I get irritated-I'll show you! You'll see, I'm going to make it and you are going to feel like an idiot!.... whatever. This response is just as childish, because, of course, this is real life. In real life, I could just as easily toil in my reclusive space for the rest of my life in relative unknown, while he stays cool and becomes famous. Actually, that is how things generally turn out in real life. Cool= people like and want you. Reclusive, socially awkward= people stay away, unless they somehow find this a sweet, quirky trait. (thank you to my wonderful friends!)

What to do? I realize I am going to be over-sensitive for the rest of my life, most likely. I am so envious of those who just don't care and are able to take people or leave them... not me. No, I ruminate about every conversation weeks after they have happened, analyzing from every possible angle. I just can't seem to let it go.

I realize that as someone who is trying to make her living by being vulnerable and at the same time is greatly pained by vulnerability that this is my fatal flaw. My greatest weakness. I really don't know how to get over it and wonder if I ever will. It's not about this particular person or this show. This interaction represents so much more about a desire for acceptance and an unwillingness to do what it takes to be accepted at the same time.

I am glad, in hindsight that this person will not be there tomorrow night. This person represents the condescension and pretension that I can't stand when it comes to being critical of another. Instead, I will have some strangers, and some wonderful friends and fellow artists that are amazingly supportive of simply the fact that I pursue what I love and so do they. And understand that everything is a journey and a work in progress. After writing this, I am now looking forward to tomorrow night once again.


meika said...

yeah, you're an introvert, so am I. my wife is an extravert, it's much better to be so, if this conversation happened to her she wouldn't notice any of that, not that she's cool but, extravert don't notice this shit and bounce on happy regardless, much better, but not for us, not naturally, only in more rule based cognitive therapy style coping procedures...

occasionally it means the extravert are a bit insensitive, but hey, it's definitely worth it

I hear they are reframing autism/aspergers as ultra sensitive rather than non-sensitive to social interaction so it's a continuuum

B Lancton said...

I was actually re-reading my life in that exchange, but with one glaring difference - you've got a lot more backbone than I ever had. It took me a few years to stiffen up my spine. I kept caving to my shyness and wouldn't publicly show my artwork, but one day I woke up feeling like a fraud to my art, and cleaned up my act... finally. You're honest and gutsy and are true to your artistic soul from the beginning. We will always be introverted, and truth be told, I really like it better. It gives a person time to think. I hope your show is great!

DeadpanAlley said...

I am currently the best seller in a gallery that carries about 150 artists, and I STILL get hurt badly enough when someone rejects my work to cry(later, if I'm lucky) and I STILL sweat with excitement (I'm NOT kidding) when I sell a big painting. I don't think I will ever get over being sensitive, but I don't know that that is a bad thing...

Don't worry about toughening up TOO much. Your sensitivity is part of being the type of artist you are. It is part of WHO you are, and who you are is a sweet, wonderful person.



Jayne said...

Thanks for your sweet comments- and it is always good to hear how other artists deal with the same sensitivities about their work. I guess it is that part of us that most likely makes us artists in the first place- a sensitivity to the world and a desire to visually communicate our perspective...

Adeline Luna Bladon said...

I read myself in your excellent blogpost, not just in the persona but in the analysing it after. I've spent good hours negotiating the 'show myself/hide myself' dichotemy and thought I might share some thoughts with you (if you don't mind).
1) Coolness is always as we perceive. I have on several occasions been informed that it was me who appeared 'cool' at school despite the fact I was a nervous wreck. I am at the conclusion that everyone feels sensitive in the end, it just varies how we display it.
2) I come to the belief that there is something inherent to art-production that is about uncovering/covering or hiding/showing. It lead me to Heidegger.. blah blah and too much intellectualising later, I feel that the process of making art is experienced within us bodily as we bodily become extensions of the object we wish to manifest (or something..). Anyway, what I'm (taking too long) saying is that the negativity we experience is a crucial part of the dialectic and life and art-making - the boundaries, the retraction, assessment, etc. etc. Our abilities to be self-critical are not just psychologically the 'tortured artist' stereotype but just a necessary part of bringing something into the world. Being sensitive to it is because making art fine tunes our listening abilities precisely for this making process (and responding to the world around). If we had no doubt then we would be running ourselves and our art riot all over the world - a violent and monolithic way of making a mark. Ok, maybe I will make this into my own blog post... not sure... sorry to impose.... Keep up the good work, I like your drawings.

Jayne said...

Wow, Adeline. You should absolutely make that your blog post- heading over to see if you have already shortly... Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Very well written and articulated. And insightful.

Lisa said...

I can't compete with these other comments. Just a big hug. I understand and still have this happen to me as well. But you have the courage and the humor.