Authenticity in Life & Art

Staying authentic.
This was the important message relayed to me by an artist teaching a workshop I attended early last fall. She said it in reference to one’s own artwork.
Her message resonated much too clear in my personal strive for career success, and one way I chose to look at this idea of staying authentic was not forcing my creativity for the sake of anything.
Let me explain more thoroughly.
I see beauty everywhere and one of my goals (now) is to bring that beauty to the forefront of others that may not have it so clearly or as often as I perceive it. This bit has been a hard intention to admit, even to myself, because I felt guilty. Why? Because it didn’t feel important enough to do just that.
I’ve always felt the need to be part of the struggle against the many injustices of the world. Children going hungry, third-world countries being exploited by the developed world, the damage to our environment for the sake of profit, etc. Within this context, beauty just did not rank high enough, and I couldn’t base my artwork on this sole concept.
And so I found that my idealistic views were getting in the way of my creativity. Every time I set out to make artwork I would mentally beat myself up about how to make it transmit a message. How do I amplify these literal injustices through my work to make others more aware of them? And when I set out on these seemingly impossible tasks and fail miserably it would send me into depression mode. I thought to myself “I just have to keep focused and with more experience and effort I’ll find a way.” And the cycle would begin all over again.
At the end of the aforementioned workshop, the artist/teacher looked at the work I had produced and said to me “you have a heightened sense of beauty, so you should keep making beautiful things.” A confirmation that made me happy yet at the same time scared that this was all I could do.
Since, I have had a bit of time to reflect on these thoughts and I’m coming to terms with my own capabilities as well as my limitations. So now when I circle back to this idea of staying authentic, everything makes more sense. I believe if one stays authentic to their inclinations in life that the path to all you need will come. Nothing needs to be forced.
Therefore, if I concentrate on making beautiful art I can not only bring meaning to my own life but through that Vessel I may contribute to the struggle against those injustices I do wish to end rather than just bringing it to other people’s awareness. After all, I even find beauty in the fight for justice because it is the beauty in a just life itself which I want to preserve.
The sculpture pictured above was developed during the workshop. In the realm of my work this piece was such a freeing experience.
Are you an artist? Can you relate? Have you ever been road-blocked from the thing you do best because your intentions (as good as they may have been) were not aligned with your most authentic self? Please feel free to share or comment on my experiences laid out on this post.
Happy New Year 2017! (Since this is my first post of the year after a long hiatus).

Meeting Mohamad Hafez at CCSU

How lucky am I to have to the opportunity to, not only meet the artists that we showcase at the CCSU Art Galleries, but also the artists who we (the art department) invite to present lectures for the students.

This week, as was the case, we had the honor to present Mohamad Hafez to speak about his most current body of work.

Mohamad Hafez Bio

When I first saw Hafez’ artwork at City Wide Open Studios in New Haven back in October and I was immediately intrigued.  It was as if gravity pulled me in closer to each piece.  The subject that his works portrayed revealed themselves to me immediately as I discovered a Middle Eastern citadel, shattered and ravaged by what one could easily identify as the trademark of war.

If anyone knows me they will know that I don’t shy away from politics.  In fact, I actually attempt to keep up with current events around the world.  And it’s not unheard of, amidst my friends and family, to have argumentative discussions about the state of world.

However, what I love more than politics is art with a powerful message.

A Refugee Nation - Shown at CWOS, New Haven, 2015.When I turned into the small room where the artist had his work displayed, I knew I had found a special treat.  This work by Hafez was skillfully crafted and installed in the perfect setting that is the Goffe Street Armory in New Haven.  A run down industrial space, the Armory space gave his pieces a sense of belonging, a kinship the works shared with the deteriorated walls, peeling paint, and rusty window frames and exposed structures.

The art history professor in our department contacted me to find a time frame for hosting an artist lecture in our gallery.  When I learned who the artist was that would be presenting a lecture, I was utterly enthused.  Admittedly, she was also a big fan of Hafez’ work like myself, and unfortunately she had missed seeing him speak at Real Artways in Hartford, so what better way to mediate that problem than by hosting his lecture for her students and the university body.

Both sides of the conflict. Shown at CWOS, New Haven, 2015.

detailShotIrrevocably, I loved everything about his lecture and message.  My favorite part of the presentation was his end goal.  He wasn’t just trying to make a statement with his artwork.  The work was born out of his necessity to feel closer to home, to his roots, and to his people rather than trying to spread his own idealistic beliefs.  He focuses his efforts on shedding these perceptions we have which corporate media has manufactured so wrongly in our minds.

He didn’t need to convince me, I was already on his side before I even saw his works of art.  I may not have first hand experience in the kind of suffering that war brings to cities, countries, multitudes of people but my empathetic heart stretches into a universe inside of me, feeling very helpless and wishing I could do more.  He did more by simply sharing his family life in Damascus with us.

He showed us the snapshots he took of every day life when he was finally able to go back to his country.  Homesick and nostalgic about the little details of his home country that most might miss if you’re not really looking, he shed light to his culture’s best aspects.  A culture where humility is of utmost importance is truly noticeable in the neighborhoods as you walk by front doors of houses completely clear of embellishment, they all look the same regardless of how much or little you may have.  He also shared how communities come together when there are neighbors in need.  He showed us pictures of a normal Friday night dinner with immediate family, gatherings of 15-20 people around the table having a grand meal and actively being a family.  It reminded me of some family gatherings I have been to myself, where family extends not only to brothers, sisters, and parents but also cousins, second cousins, uncles, aunts, and friends whom we consider family.

It was easy to relate to his stories, and though our cultures may be different, they are also so similar.

This was my take on the artwork and the artist’s presentation.  I am sure I could go on for another 600 words to critique the quality of the artwork but after all I have already said, I don’t think it’s as important as you (the reader/viewer) to draw your own conclusion and opinion.

Saturday Night Hartford Outing

Last Saturday was one of the coldest nights we have had in Connecticut.  The day before Valentine’s, which had a record this year of being the coldest Valentine’s Day since they started to record the highs and lows.

But, for one reason or another, we decided it was a good night to take in some culture from around town.

My husband and I put on a bunch of layers and made our way to Hartford’s Artspace gallery.  If you live in CT and don’t know about it or have never been there, you should.  The gallery resides in the first floor of the beautiful apartment building right across the train station in Hartford.  The apartments are beautiful, just the kind I dream about converting into a studio, high ceilings, lots of natural lighting, and a bit of an industrial feel.

The Artspace gallery is volunteer-run by Tao LaBossiere and his wife.  They are both active in the art scene all throughout Hartford County.  And the shows they put on at the gallery are well worth the trip downtown.

Some friends met us at the gallery for the opening exhibition of “Elsewhere” which featured: Andres Chaparro, Hong Hong, Jourdan Joly, Terrance Regan, Sarah Rohlfing, Adam Viens, Amy Vensel.  Let me tell you, this show did not disappoint.

From Chaparro’s emotive and musical mixed media paintings to the simplified paintings but full of depth and texture by Amy Vensel and a great installation piece by my friend Terrance Regan, the show couldn’t have ever let me down.

Check out some of the photos I snapped:

Connecticut Arts

From museums one weekend to gallery visits the next is how I spend my free time in the lovely state of Connecticut.

Two weekends ago (already!) I made my way to the Slater Museum in Norwich, CT.  They were having the opening reception for their Annual Connecticut Artists Juried Exhibition.  A fellow ceramic artist, with whom I work a lot, Monica Hewryk, was juried into the exhibition so we ventured to the reception to see the rest of the CT artists’ skills.

Check out Monica Hewryk below next to her piece:

Monica Hewryk

To my delight, I was able to recognize so many artists in the exhibition.  I saw the work of many who are also members of CAFA (Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts).  These members are very active in the annual exhibition and repeated recipients of the awards too, so it doesn’t shock me that they are active elsewhere.  Check out the beautiful work below.  And if you get a chance to see it in person, it’s even better!!

With these beautiful imagery, I leave you to write another post about another exhibition, and other artists also pouring their hearts out onto canvases and installations.  Until my next art stop!

 

Quick Update

Today I’m posting some photos of my work. The following pieces were accepted into some juried exhibitions and I wanted to share my excitement here.

Like crazy, I have been entering some competitions for 3D artwork.  Last week I found out three of my pieces made it in.  The first was one of my “rhino” minis.  It’s about 3.75 by 3.5 by 3.75 inches.  It’s pretty tiny.  It was accepted to a “small works” exhibition put on by the Clay Studio in Philadelphia.  Since I used to live in Philly, this was such exciting news!!!  If you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to check it out, Small Favors XI opens on March 25, 2016 but you can find more information here.

The same day I found out about the small piece getting accepted into that show, I also found out two of my other pieces were accepted into a different juried exhibition.  These pieces were both made last year, one in the spring and the other in the fall.  It makes me happy to finally have my pieces be shown.  These two were juried into an exhibition for the National Association of Women Artists.  You can check out the exhibition artists’ work on their website.  Please check it out and feel free to share the link with the world.

Soon I will post the photos of all my new works since last summer.  For now, I need to finish my many works in progress and make new pieces.  Thanks for stopping by.

Hustle of life

It seems I may have gotten a bit lazy about updating my page.

On the other hand, it could be  that I am getting somewhat more ambitious about my career goals and writing has been, sadly, a lesser priority.  As much as I love writing, it’s not my career choice.  This doesn’t change one of my long-term goals of writing a book….someday.

What career goals are be keeping me so busy?

Besides my two jobs, which keep me pretty busy, I am keeping my hands busy in clay.

New(er) work yet in progress
New(er) work yet in progress

Creating new bodies of work is exhausting when you find yourself always trying to buy a little time for solitude, music, and clay.  My most important goal is to develop artwork that makes sense and work which communicates what I have, for so long, been trying to say.  That in itself has been psychologically daunting because, inevitably, this incorporates some introspection.  As insightful as this process is, it is gut-wrenching when it’s not common practice.

Naturally, my next goal is to show my work, because what is the point in divulging if not to spark a conversation about it.  This takes some social skills which I am constantly trying to improve.  It includes going to galleries, meeting other artists and curators, applying for artist opportunities, and maintaining social media updated among others.

Speaking of artist opportunities brings me to other goals: find a residency (or a few) to help me grow artistically while preparing myself to find an MFA program that will take me.  This takes some research, preparation, and inspiration as well.

In the time left over for the rest of my life, I try to be with family, read a book, finally learn to play the guitar, travel, organize my kitchen, and feed myself.

It’s no wonder to myself that I can’t seem to hop on the computer to write another post.  It doesn’t mean I have stopped going to see art or even talking about it with others.  I am fascinated by the depth of learning throughout life, it’s a deep like the ocean floor and as detailed as marine life.

Still, I want to take readers on a journey of my life immersed in the arts.  One of the reasons I started this blog.  It might get a bit redesigned but its core will remain the same.  In the meanwhile, I will attempt to post more often which means more post will be simply photos of my interesting daily events.  There are so many good things happening and worry not, I will keep anyone reading updated!!

[Oh, and thanks for reading!]

 

Art in the state of Connecticut

Fall is the time of year known for the abundance of apples growing, the Oktoberfest events happening everywhere, Thanksgiving plans stewing, and the bright alluring colors of the foliage.

If you are an artist you are probably enjoying all these great attributes of the season, but you are also probably very busy creating work for one or multiple autumn art festivals.  For now I am keeping my head afloat with new work, but the first show is coming up in three weeks and there’s still so much to do!

This is the time to get organized to be efficient.

So what is happening in Connecticut that has me excited and busy all at once, you ask?  This year I am first-time participant of Open Studios in Hartford, a city-wide event where.  This will be happening Saturday & Sunday, November 14 & 15, 2015.  There are close to 250 artists participating in this event, it is sure to leave your art yearning satisfied!!

There are 22 locations throughout Hartford that will be featuring art and artists from around the area.  Below is the list of locations with addresses:

#1 Oak Hill Art Studio, 120 Holcombe Street
#2 Hartford Weaving Center, 40 Woodland Street
#3 Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth Street
#4 Venom Vintage & Creative Art Space, 11 Whitney Street
#5 Passages Gallery, 509 Farmington Avenue
#6 Majorca, 2074 Park Street
#7 Arbor Arts Center, 56 Arbor Street
#8 Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street
#9 30 Arbor Street, 30 Arbor Street
#10 The Dirt Salon, 50 Bartholomew Avenue
#11 1429 New Park & Bartholomew
#12 Trinity College Fifth Year Fellows, Trinity College
#13 Kempczynski Gallery & Studio, 130 Washington Street
#14 Colt Gateway, 140 Huyshope Avenue
#15 Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts @ Colt Gateway
#16 First Presbyterian Church, 136 Capitol Avenue
#17 Hartford Artisan Showcase, CT Convention Center
#18 Hartford Dada Art Show, Capital Community College, 950 Main
#19 Hartford Prints, 42 1/2 Pratt Street
#19 Lindsey Fyfe Studio, 75 Pratt Street #504
#19 The Tobacco Shop Gallery, 89 Pratt Street
#20 ArtSpace Hartford, 555 Asylum Street
#20 Union Station Great Hall, One Union Place
#22 M. D. Robertson Photo Arts, 69 Myrtle Street C2

Here is a postcard that has been going around, but if you need more information, be sure to check out their website at: openstudiohartford.com/  

Hope to see you there!  I have been working on a lot of new work for this show.  At my table you can find some awesome sculptures, big and little, as well as some great practical pieces like coffee mugs, bowls, pitchers, tumblers, etc.  I want to leave you all wanting more, so come see me at the Colt Gateway (#14)!!