I am a couple of days behind in my seven-day blog challenge. I’m supposed to be done and my blog-life changed for the better by now, but I’m only on the sixth blog post.
Day six is all about getting personal. I’m a little stuck right now because I feel like A. I’ve already shared stuff I’m comfortable sharing, and B. what I haven’t shared, maybe I shouldn’t. Besides what does anyone care to read about me really? I mean, geez, I have an Instagram feed, two Facebook accounts, a Flickr account, Pinterest boards, a blog, and a website!
You would think with those many outlets, I must have something valuable to share, some great stories, an important message. So, here’s a little something you may not know. I am pretty much in a constant state of freaking out that I don’t have anything impactful to share, no meaningful message. Lots of people can make pretty pictures, so what separates me from that lot? What gives me the right to call myself an artist? Is that a title one may simply take for themselves? Or must I wait for someone else to say it is so? Do I need to be pathological? Go a little mad? Will God let me know? Did he already? Did I miss it?
I recently mentioned on Facebook that I was reading Just Kids. It’s Patti Smith’s book about her life and relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. A friend gave the book to me and told me to share it with someone else when I finished. I will share it with someone, but I may have to buy another copy to do so, because I have to consume this one. I’ve turned down the corners of pages, underlined sentences and circled entire paragraphs. She is a talented artist and gifted writer and she has something interesting to say, but she wasn't always sure of that.
At the young age of twelve, her father took the family on a trip to the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. It was the first real interaction she’d had with art, her first time in the presence of the works of artists like Dali, Sargent, Modigliani and Picasso, with whom she was most taken. She writes that she knew she had been “transformed, moved by the revelation that human beings create art, that to be an artist was to see what others could not.”
I had been reading aloud to my husband and surprised us both when I got choked up reading that sentence. Then I was holding back tears trying to read the next paragraph.
I had no proof that I had the stuff to be an artist, though I hungered to be one.
I imagined that I felt the calling and prayed that it be so. But one night, while watching
The Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones, I was struck that the young saint did not
ask to be called. It was the mother superior who desired sanctity, even as Bernadette,
a humble peasant girl, became the chosen one. This worried me. I wondered if I had
really been called as an artist. I didn’t mind the misery of a vocation but I dreaded not
It’s not like I had an “oh my God! I’m so much like Patti Smith” moment, but I did have a moment in which I connected totally to her words, her journey, her story.
So, am I supposed to, above else, create art? Am I called to it? Psh.
Am I called to tell stories? Do I have something imperative to contribute? Maybe.
Do I find connections to myself, my experiences, my humanity in art, and do I seek to create work that speaks to the selves and experiences of others? Definitely.
Otherwise, what the Hell am I doing?