"Hey, you should do this!" is said to me quite often. I am an artist with friends who love me and because they love me, think that I'm brilliant. This is not a terrible problem to have. But, it also means I sift through a lot of suggestions for "The Voice", "America's Got Talent", "What about playing for the DSO?" etc etc. But when someone (tall, dark and handsome) suggested I attend a workshop on the application process for a Kresge Arts Fellowship, I listened. I attended. And I was seriously inspired. This was a room FULL of people like me! Let me assure you, that never happens. I am usually the oddball...blue hair, big smile, lots of non traditional opinions and a zero tolerance policy for staying inside the box. I've spent many hours being tucked in, straitened up, straitened out, told to toughen up, smile less, have more guile, show more leg, show LESS leg...you name it! So, as I sat through this workshop full of artists and hopeful visionaries who wanted to win this fellowship so that they could continue to create and share their gift of art with the world and we were told again and again "Be yourself. Be as honest a version of yourself as you can be. Be true to your art" my skin bristled with excitement and relief washed over me in grateful waves. I was being told over and over and over again, "You are good enough! Be exactly who you are. Believe in your art so that we can believe in you, too!" I couldn't wait to rush home and get started. I emailed a colleagues and friends for their advice on my body of work to submit and received constructive advice and arduous support. I put together a resume, which I hadn't done since I stopped pursuing a career in professional classical clarinet. I was stymied at what had been achieved. I hadn't ever looked at it all on paper before. Then came the Artist Statement. I sat down to put in writing what I most believed to be true about myself and my craft. And then, the Discipline Statement and the Community Impact and Fellowship Goals Statements...I found myself furiously typing about things I have been so passionate about, but hadn't ever put into order before. These were collections of my work that I was most proud of and lists of prominent things I had achieved and attained. The entire process was a revolution for me. I had been so busy forging ahead that I hadn't stopped to check out the view. I was proud. Proud of what I had done. Of course, there is always much more to do, perspective to be had and so much to learn. But, why hadn't I ever stopped to take a breath and be glad for just being an artist and working hard for art? Why hadn't I believed in my own work? I have struck the jackpot with the Kresge Arts Fellowship. I may never hear from them again this year. I may most certainly never see the $25,000 grant. But I have gained a serious amount of chutzpah and excitement and belief in my craft. I've gained a drive to keep creating and sharing. I've gained a bit of courage to pursue further and challenge more broadly. I've already won.
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