It is my guess “I’m from Alabama and I’m an artist” is not something you hear everyday. Heck I am sure it is not something you put together readily in your mind. Kind of like “I’m a rocket scientist, and I’m from Alabama” sounds like an oxymoron. When you think of great artist, you are probably not even thinking Alabama.
You and I both know that geography does not dictate the truths about right or left brained thought. Yet, I am often blindsided by this type of prejudice quite a bit. But, being a good Southern girl, I usually just swallow my opinions, smile sweetly, say something really kind, all the while knowing that it is a shame this fool just does not know how offensive they are being, bless their little heart. So, let’s just get this out of the way already…
I am from Alabama.
I am a fiber artist.
I grew up in Huntsville.
My dad is a rocket scientist.
But this is not really about me. This post is about the prejudices we apply to ourselves and and receive from others everyday that holds us back.
I have had doubts about being taken seriously as a Southern artist. I have also had doubts that I would be taken seriously when I found my creative voice through knitting and rustic weaving vs. traditional mediums like painting or sculpture. These are the same doubts I know many of you may have no matter where you live or what you make. And it just sucks big time. I look back and absolutely HATE that I let those doubts hold me back from doing the work that really lights me up for years.
As artists, we are sensitive peeps. Prejudices and doubts can so easily unravel our drive and voice in a heartbeat.
I still struggle to recenter myself when struck by some form of doubt and prejudice. But you know what? I really should thank the offending party, even if the offending party are my own doubts. Because as artists, we are driven by something in our core. These challenges are just that…challenges. Calls to recenter, reconnect with our resolve, slay that dragon of doubt and come out on the other side with a deeper commitment to our soul’s work.
Alabama’s own Gee’s Bend Quilters are the epitome of outsider fiber art in Alabama.
Yes, I’m talking your knitting, too. Although to me it is all fiber art 😉
I have mad love for outsider art. Artist who buck the traditional norms to follow their hearts and make the work they feel so strongly called to make, despite the criticism. People are often struck by outsider art, because it challenges their preconceived notions of what art is. Outsider art becomes desirable because it is unique and raw.
To me, outsider art is soul work created against the odds of doubt and tradition in the spirit of following a undeniable drive of the heart.
A voice that had to be heard on its own terms. Like a warrior, outsider artists fighting through all the criticism, doubt and just outright mean words. What’s worse is those creativity-crushing words can often become the things you tell yourself. And even more devastating, you find yourself in the place of censoring your work.
I am a huge fan of Alabama’s own Natalie Chanin. Both her her work and work ethic. This is her image.
Don’t play into the hive mind about who you are, based on “statistics”. You and I both know, who you are at the core, is more than your medium/geography/skin color/cultural affiliations. Your work is about your voice. Haters gonna hate. So, give yourself some self love. Own your outsider qualities. And have some compassion for the na-sayers. They are probably a little intimidated by your fierce inner drive to buck tradition….Bless their little hearts.
So my question for you…What predjudices about you or your work are holding you back? I normally say leave me a comment, below, but I totally get how triggery this can be. Just know that if you do comment, I only have love and admiration for you for being so open.
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