Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Coming Out as an Artist

If you’d asked my childhood self what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you “a writer.” This came not so much from a love of writing or making up stories as from a love of reading. I could think of no higher calling than to be one of the creators I revered. “Artist” would never have crossed my mind, because artists can draw, and I can’t draw, so that’s that.

Except that I seem to have a knack for putting colors together, and maybe an eye for layout and design, and some mad crafty construction skills. And yeah, I’ve been using various combinations of those skills and talents for years to create stuff for me and my house, and my friends and their houses, and occasionally getting offered money for projects. Hmm … But am I allowed to call myself an artist? Don’t artists paint? On canvases, I mean. I paint walls. And doors. And furniture. And office supplies. (Maybe sometime I’ll tell you about the stapler …) Even the cat once, but that was an accident. Of course my rational self understands that drawing and painting are only two forms of art and artists use hundreds of different mediums to create art. I get that. 

To declare myself an artist feels like I’m puttin’ on airs, as they might say in the South. So I tried it out on a couple of close friends. Palms sweaty, eyes down, scuffing a toe in the dirt “Uh, so, I think I might be an artist,” bracing myself to hear “No, you’re not!” Because these are people I count on to tell me when I’m delusional. The responses I got were more or less “Yeah, I know,” the subtext being “Good gawd, you’re slow sometimes!”

O-kay. Now what?

For now, my medium is mosaics. More to come on mosaics. Much, much more. I’ve just recently committed to yet another commissioned piece. So, here I am, demolishing dishes, then putting the pieces back together in ways that speak to me and sometimes others, too. Apparently I’m an artist.

My name is Kelli.

I am an artist.

How about you? What is your calling?