Preview: Beautiful Madness
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By Christie Stockstill Photography
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Tuesday night I was one of the readers/sharers/artists at Austin's One Page Salon. {Thank you so much, Owen Egerton, for inviting me!} It was an honor to be asked, though I knew sharing my work in front of an audience would be scary, not to mention Owen asks you questions like "What book do you feel all political candidates should read?" before you share, and you have to answer the questions speaking into a MICROPHONE! 

Plus, most of the people there are reading from a novel or memoir or short story they are writing, so I had to figure out how I would fit. 

Anyway, it was another exit-plane-trust-parachute moment for me.  I shared some of the (maybe) finished images from the series I've been working on this year. While the images played, I read a little thing I wrote about me, the series, the metaphors, the madness...  It kind of came together from the pages of the sketchbook that contains my brainstorming, which is very, very ramble-y - lots of arrows and question marks, quotes and horribly drawn stick figure illustrations. 

Fast forward to Tuesday. I read the piece and ran the slideshow. I could barely catch my breath and my hands were shaking, but I effing did it!

The absolute best part was afterward when folks came over to tell me a particular image spoke to them. Even crazier (to me) is that some people mentioned a phrase or concept from my reading! I mean....  What?!!??!?!  To have created or written something that connects with other humans? Such an amazing feeling. I know a lot of people tell us (creatives) that we are supposed to create our art for ourselves, but that's A.) not going to pay any bills and B.) a load of crap.

So, if you say decide to go ahead and call yourself an artist, or a painter or a writer, then you're committed. Now you have to actually produce something. If you don't, or can't, it can be absolutely maddening. It can be depressing and frustrating! When the ideas don't come, or you don't like the work you're doing, or the kids are home for the summer, or it rains for five months straight, it can be torture. Not that any of that has ever happened to me.

Just kidding. It has, and that's how I wound up making this series: Beautiful Madness

I'm about half way through with the series, but I need more participants, more models. (Like where is my 80-year-old man who wants to get naked and ride on a model's back? Why is that so hard to find? And where is my model who wants to stand mostly naked in front of a line of people? Where ARE you?)

Reading and sharing the work the other night, and, even better, getting actual feedback from real, live, thinking human beings was just the motivation I needed to stay the course. Here's hoping the universe will connect me with the right people to get the work done.

I'm not putting all the images out into the ether yet, but I will share a few here along with the essay/poem I wrote about this project. 


“Beautiful Madness”

Feels like: Unravelling. Paralyzing. Suffocating.

I have nothing new to contribute; nothing original to say.

I have no recognizable style, no bold ideas, no unique voice.

I am full of fear and doubt.

I compare myself to others.

The kids won’t leave me alone. 

I can’t think!

I am boring---just another white lady, mother of two, substitute teacher barely paying the bills and trying not to let the bag of salad in the fridge go past its fresh date.

How dare I call myself an artist?

I think my images should drink and swear and yell the truth, but I don’t even know my own story, and

I’m concerned about upsetting my parents.

I’m easily distracted.

There’s laundry to fold.

Feels like:  Empty.  Impatient.  Itchy.

My body has become an asylum. 

My voice is in there.

I want to claw and shred my skin to get it out, but I’m afraid I will not recognize it, or worse, that all I will find are other peoples’ voices.

Feels like:  Impotent.  Frantic.  Anemic.


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