I will (hopefully) graduate college in just a couple of months. Before that I will have artwork in the student gallery for people to see. Needless to say I'm horribly nervous and a bit worried that my work will be acceptable and ready in time. You might think that art is any easy thing to throw out into the world, but that's not true. There is a massive line between fine/high art and craft art. Neither one is better than the other, it's simply a difference in audience. My audience is a fairly demanding one.
In the midst of classes where I learn or hone techniques, we also spend a lot of time doing research and watching documentaries about contemporary artists. Many times I walk away feeling like I'm I'm horribly behind my peers. Many of my instructors have been my age, some are younger than me by several years. But every single one of them has been in their career or medium for as long as I have been in mine. While these people were finishing grad school or maybe backpacking across the US making connections with other artists, I have been working in warehouses and air craft hangers. I don't want to downplay what I've done in life thus far, but it is a far cry from what I imagined myself doing when I was a teenager. And yes, there is a measure of jealousy when I see what they have done with the same years I've had.
I've been listening to My Girl talk about her coming adult life. She's got many plans and aspirations. The "responsible" (read: buzz kill) parent in me wants to tell her to be realistic, not all of that will come true. The lost dreamer in me won't allow that to happen. I won't tell her to back her plans up a bit or to stop dreaming so big. If anything, I've come down on her for not doing the foundation work to make those plans happen. Watching her reach makes me remember when I reached and fell short. I did what I thought was correct at the time. While I don't exactly regret the decisions I made, I don't revel in them either. I definitely feel like I missed out on a lot by doing what I was expected to do. Now I'm 40 years old trying to relate to people that are not exactly where I am in life. My academic peers are half my age, while my life peers are where I wish I could be.
I try to take it as my opportunity to tell them the things parents and employers won't tell them. Give them the little sneaky details that others won't admit to. But there are moments that I want to go back and redo my past. I would like a chance to see what I would have become had I not followed the prescription handed to me. What if I'd never stopped painting and told him that I needed to be home to sew and create....what if I'd have finished college 20 years ago....
I've been told to stop looking at the shoulda, woulda, coulda's. I see the logic in that. I truly do. A person will drive themselves crazy thinking about all the things they should or could have done. We can't travel backwards, but we can weave a new tapestry, a new journey.
I don't revel in the fact that I'm finishing an art degree at 40 years old. There's a tiny piece of it that is slightly embarrassing. If I didn't have anything to show for the lateness of this endeavor, I would not have been so open about my choice to finish the degree.
Right now, today, I just want to have a successful student show. I want my teachers to be proud of me. It's been a massive struggle because my mind has been closed for so long. Something happens when you sacrifice creating for business and survival. You lose that creativity...you lose little pieces of yourself, or at least...they get buried very deep inside. It can be stressful and frightening to find them and dig them up...and then put those little pieces to use. There will come a time where you have to put away your fears of someone not understanding your work or your message.
My show is about balance. It is a voice of my past, but with that I am still affecting a balance between what my former peers will accept and what my new peers have seen in me. With luck, the two worlds will collide and be in some form of agreement.