thoughts on authenticity, part 3

April 24, 2010

I've already had a chance to practice a bit of being authentic in my short-lived career as an artist. Two examples come to mind. The first was my decision to identify as a mixed media or collage artist. I took a few art classes early on where collage was spoken of disparagingly. The classes happened to be about painting. For those of you who don't engage much with the art world, I've frequently encountered a bit of a hierarchy (not embraced by everyone, of course), where painting is considered more "serious" than collage or mixed media. There is also a whole debate about art vs. craft, where some people elevate fine art above craft-based arts, like knitting, weaving, wood-working, etc. Personally, I don't buy into any of that. I mean, as someone who certainly wasn't motivated by hierarchy or supposed status when choosing my first career (social work), I'm not motivated by it now in picking an art form. And honestly, I don't have much patience for those who create hierarchies and judge others accordingly.

That said, I can't say that it hasn't affected me. It was still a process for me to choose my medium and fully accept it internally. Whenever there is judgement about something, real or perceived, it can take some time to learn to ignore it. At least, for my personality type. I know plenty of other people who never care what others think and don't let others' opinions really affect them at all. I did not luck out with this kind of innate personality, so I have to work a bit harder to get to the place where others' opinions carry less weight.

The second example, which I'm still a bit in process with, relates to my interest in graphic design. I think it also, at times, can rank a little lower on the art form hierarchy. Maybe one of the reasons for this is because it is so commercial. Regardless, I find that a lot of the art I like to make has more of a graphic feel...a heightened focus on lines and shapes, composition, contrast, color breaks, etc. So, I'm trying to pay attention to this interest or pull I feel when I create and not discount it as somehow inferior. And also not create something different that someone else will put a stamp of approval on, but which will not really be me. Because if we all end up being the same voice, what interest is there in that?

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