When I began doing expressive arts, and when I started this blog, it never occurred to me that I would begin to take myself seriously as an actual artist.
I call myself an artist, because I do make art. But there is this whole other world of art that I have not participated in. So I've never felt like a real artist. I've never felt cool enough.
I've reached a plateau in my expressive arts journey. Things are okay right now, you know? And while I believe in and love expressive arts, lately I have been wanting to get out of my own way and just make some fucking art without it meaning anything.
The thought of taking symbols or images that have emerged during expressive arts work seems dangerous, like I am exploiting my inner world in some way. To take an image that is precious to me and to use it in different ways simply for artistic experimentation seems to devalue it. I am questioning that now.
Recently I watched the Art:21 episode with Kiki Smith and she said "I just have this inventory of images and I can start mixing them up. And if you make them like a kind of character, they get to live again. They get to have this life outside of just one version." When I heard it, I took it to mean that this 'life' our art gets to live is beyond our control, that to keep it hidden robs both ourselves and others of a rich experience, a risky one for us as artists. Yes, we may get criticized, but I'm at the point now that I can handle that more than I could before. In fact, criticism is better that not being noticed at all, quite frankly.
I took a long break from art (my 30s essentially), and so when I began again, I felt like a beginner. To make art in a healing way, to keep it mostly private, to be an outsider...this worked for many years. But now I feel some distance from my art, and a desire to share it more widely, to get out of my sketchbook, and to be more ambitious.
Those who are in the expressive arts field and are not trained in the fine arts are coming from a therapy background. I've found that they do not have the same yearning to create something that can have a life outside our own. Its about the process, not the product, they would say. And yes, yes.
But think of your favorite art, music, or book created by someone else...what if it had never made it out of the studio and into your experience?