After returning home from my show with Talya Johnson in Portland this past weekend, I keep revisiting a brief moment from the opening day...
Now, this show is far different than any I had participated in in the past. The venue is non-traditional (A gorgeous cathedral - talk about competition! :) ), the duration is longer than most (2 months yet only open on Sundays), and the theme, for us, was all about how intertwined our art and lives have become as friends. So, encountering these variations I was unsure what to expect in terms of "success" but was entirely optimistic that the experience would be worth while.
Turns out, part of this "worth while" was delivered in an untraditional way as well. :)
Before the reception we were asked to give a talk about our work, our friendship, and how we approach the art world in a non-traditional way. Neither of us have formal fine arts education, and while we do show our work in galleries, it is not our sole or even primary source for getting our art in front of the public. Our talk focused heavily on the importance of having a supportive network and not walling yourself off, or flying solo. While having alone-time is necessary for an artist, it should not be descriptive of your entire social outlook. We shared the importance of connecting with like minded creative individuals and how we are able to magnify our artistic potential through these relationships. Surrounding ourselves with those who know the biz, our weaknesses, and our strengths, but most importantly have our best interests at heart, place us in the HOV lane of being an artist. We are able to navigate the snarls of life more quickly and in ways we couldn't do alone.
Talya was beautifully describing how we help one another with our art careers, be it marketing, social media, sourcing materials, critiquing each other's art, etc. We share freely. Then Talya associated it with something I did not expect. She drew a parallel with this type of relationship to my generation, millennials. She brought to light how in the very recent past, the widely accepted method of progress was to focus inward, devoting your time and resources to your own work, and protect these resources from being accessed by others at all costs. "My precioussss!" Because if you share, you lose. But in contrast, generally speaking, she noted that millennials are aware of the benefit of sharing... (not only the immediate benefit to the recipient, but how it improves our world, our communities, and our own work and lives).
At this point I was digesting Talya's assessment, quite in my own little world - deep in thought at the front of the room and then noticed the sound of a chuckle. Turns out there were a couple members of the audience who felt that this new outlook of sharing freely was humorous. I admit to being slightly offended at first, but that quickly evaporated into something much more unsettling. It pains me to think that there are those who still cling tightly to the concept of guarding their experience, shielding their knowledge from others, stonewalling the gift that they have to offer their community in the belief that it will somehow make their own situation better. Jesus said it best that it is better to give than it is to receive
. He went even farther to say that it is best to give to those who cannot reciprocate.
In the end we each are only on this planet for a tiny blip on the timeline of humanity. I don't think I am alone in my desire to leave a mark on the world I occupied, something acknowledging my time here. But how much better that our marks be ones of beauty and compassion, love and creativity, ingenuity and improvement, than indifference and isolation, self interest and self preservation.
At the end of the talk several people made a point to come up to us and express their gratitude for us discussing this approach to being an artist, how our openness was refreshing. A few even said that this inspired them and they will now be making a creative leap that they had been putting off. THIS is what we were speaking to, THIS is how we make differences, THIS is why we share. <3 No matter the sales that result, the show has "succeeded."In closing:
Here is a video I recently stumbled upon. It sums this all up beautifully. https://youtu.be/YDXOioU_OKM