Being An Artist. Being Seen ?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an artist. The last few years I’ve taken the time to cultivate new bodies of work and push myself in my studio practice. There is still this sense that I’m uncomfortable with my work being seen at all. I wonder how other artists navigate this anxiety about being seen? Do they experience the same sense of dread yet excitement when a piece of theirs sells or is liked by others? Or is it just a historical devision within my psyche that continues to compartmentalize and try to remain hidden and isolated?

I’ve always been attracted to art that is autobiographical. That mix of vulnerability and courage to share art that IS a part of yourself. I remember experimenting with photography and video and discovering Francesca Woodman’s work. My favorite poets (Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath) have always been women who reside in duality. It always felt to me as if their work was palpable almost pieces of themselves cut and placed for others consumption.

I’ve been listening to The Jealous Curator’s “Art for you Ears” podcast a lot the the last few months this helps me feel less alone. The amount of time and risk involved in being an artist is immense. Essentially you are charting a completely unique life that may never end in the dream you wish for. For me it’s to continue making exciting work and also make a good living from it while maintaining balance in my professional and personal life. Watching my husband (John Peña check out his work he’s incredible) navigate the art world within Pittsburgh has been very helpful and has also awarded me with less anxiety about how fast my perceived “success” as an artist has to come. I remember being in my 20’s making work and being completely devastated when none of it sold little did I know this is part of the process and continues to be. I love having newly found realistic expectations of how to build a career as a working artist. It’s mixed with my fairy tale optimistic view that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

This is my lifeblood right now.

How do you do it?

Francesca Woodman, On Talking to Vince

Francesca Woodman, On Talking to Vince