I wrote this back on January 12, 2017 but never shared it publicly. I think ultimately, that decision to not share immediately proved best, as it allowed me the space and grace to begin finding my way in living it out in a tangible way. Much has transpired for me personally and professionally since I originally wrote this out-each event creating room for understanding and clarity of purpose along the way. In order to get back into writing and to begin sharing what life has been like these past 8 months, I felt like I needed to finally express this first before diving into the rest. Looking back, I see it had laid the foundation for where I am currently.
January 12, 2017:
My words for the year ahead: silence and solitude. I admit that it seems odd and counter-intuitive considering the times we're living in, but it honestly doesn't feel that way when I really consider where I'm at personally and in my work. Instead, it feels like the next logical step in my evolution as an artist, creative process and day to day living.
Since 2010 I've done a lot of talking & writing (online, specifically) about faith, mental illness, motherhood, and race.While doing so has brought wonderful opportunities and community into my life, it's also taught me some things about people & how they respond to different mediums/forms of expression. Things that have left me questioning how effective any of my writing and vocalizing has REALLY been. I've learned how far people will go to invalidate what you vocalize or type out on a screen. For most, it's purely reflexive-they can't help themselves, and their defensiveness renders them incapable of doing anything else. When painting or constructing a visual around these subjects, however, the impact (and reaction) has been, in my experience, the opposite. There's something about an image that pierces a defensive heart in a way that words simply cannot. There's something about SEEING something in front of us that gets into our core, roots into the subconscious and doesn't leave. That's the power of visual art. What we see penetrates and takes root before we're even aware it has done so. Images (and music and performance) engrave themselves upon our consciousness and solidify within us in a way that words fail to do at times. It is far more difficult to deny what you've seen vs. what you've heard or read. (This is hard for me to articulate, but I'll try to get better as I continue to process this, I promise.)
I've learned that I can write about my lived experiences with race, motherhood, faith, and mental illness and people will go out of their way to invalidate them. I've had plenty of folks do it in my inboxes or to my face or behind my back the last 6 years. (OMG it's ONLY been 6 years.) If I go back to my preteen/teen years, I remember being hit for speaking up and punished for writing my truths, my thoughts, my dreams, my struggles...Come to think of it, I've only been writing online for 6 years, but my history with having my words and vocalizations invalidated goes back to my formative years as a child. I guess what I'm saying is: I've fought hard to find and use my voice after decades of abuse and in doing so I've learned that some things about people just don't change when they're confronted with a truth that's different than their own.
So what does this mean for me, a person and artist who has spent a good chunk of time compelling herself and others to speak up? I know what it means but honestly? I also don't. Here's what I know: it doesn't-and won't ever-mean inaction. I know it doesn't mean completely disappearing and going off the grid-although I've given it serious consideration. I know it means putting systems and practices in place that preserve my sanity and emotional health. I know that I desire community, engagement, and collaboration with other artists to push for change. I know it means I'm ready to stop typing Facebook statuses and tweets and blog posts around these issues and instead have difficult conversations about them through paintings & images. I know I'm committed to ensuring my work is of service to more than just my own personal advancement. It means I will continue to donate proceeds of my work to help fund the various forms of important work so many of you and others are already doing. It means I'm stepping back in some areas and from many people so that I can step fully into being 100% committed to my creative practice and focused on painting. I want to spend the rest of my life painting and creating work that says something, that inspires not just social change but personal. I want to create pieces that give people the courage to face the shit inside of themselves they've been too afraid to, or discover something about themselves they weren't aware of. I desire to create work that contributes to conversations around difficult topics instead of just adding noise. I'm so fucking tired of noise, y'all. My brain just can't take it anymore, and I don't want to be a conductor of it. I'm done screaming into the ether. Over the last 12 months especially it feels as though I've been saying the same things in every way possible without being able to truly measure how effective anything I've said is. I'd rather just let what I create speak for me.
So...I don't know exactly how incorporating silence and solitude into my life and art practice are going to look, esp when it comes to using social media, but using them to give my all to my work and speak predominantly through creating images is my focus going forward. I've struggled since 2015 to find where I "fit" and what I'm supposed to be doing with my life at this point, and the results of the election have made it far more plain for me than any other message I received in 2016. I'm clear now. I know what my role is in this fight and I'll still be engaged in it in numerous ways offline. I will also continue to use whatever influence and ability I have to compel others to take action in their daily lives to help others. It's just not going to look the same as it has the last 6 years. It's not going to be what you've come to expect from me anymore because I'm expanding outside of those expectations.
My hope is that by pivoting in this direction, and shifting how I engage the world and the people I interact with, I'm able to create work that's far more disruptive, substantial and more effective than my words and vocalizations have ever been.
Here's to trusting intuition and the places it leads us to.