From One Heart to Another

Vector version of Image:Color icon purple.png

Vector version of Image:Color icon purple.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know a delightful man, loquacious and sensitive. When you come into his shop be prepared to stay longer than you should, enjoying his honest and humorous pondering on life.

In a conversation about a year ago, he was telling me how much he loved purple. His business pens are purple and if he could find more supplies in his color, he would. I was just starting on my art adventure back then and I had already been visiting him for four years.

I was inspired to create something for him.  I thought about it for over 6 months. And then the vision came to me. He and his wife had just had their first child. She is an absolutely adorable angel. My vision combined the purple with being new parents. It is called New Family.

New FamilyI had enlarged it and put it in a simple, durable, black frame with a white mat for the library display. After the display, it was sitting in my living room,  just sitting. Finally I said, “I’m going to take it to him!”

When he saw it he was dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then he said it was beautiful and expressed how much he loved it and how touched he was. I asked him what he saw in it. He saw the family, exactly as I had intended! That shocked me because no one else had. Even when I  would explain it to others, the response was, “Ohhh.”

He shared with me some of the pains and joys of his life, unashamed to let tears well up in his eyes, and how at those times, creativity flows from him like a powerful salve.

Once again I was richer for having been in his presence, sharing heart to heart.

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My first display- part 2

Remaining nimble

“Hello.” said the grand mom-ish figure who appeared and sat at the computer. She didn’t look like a particularly nimble grand mom  How did she successfully navigate her office?

“You are interested in using one of the display cases? she asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

We wrapped up the business and I carefully maneuvered out of the room.

Fast forward to the end of this February. The nimble g-mom calls to ask if I still want to do the display for the month of March. My first thought, “Drat, how did I forget about that?!” Second thought, “Of course! I can get something together in two days.”

I was pretty annoyed that with four months for preparation, I was going to be running around like headless poultry 48 hours before the display went up. But I’ve been preparing myself mentally to keep a nimble mind, so that I could hurdle unexpected situations and slip through narrow time frames to meet the opportunities on the other side.

My display went up on time and was beautiful. My website had a nice bump in traffic this month. The manuscript went off to the editors. Being angry and headless was only temporary.

My first display- part 1

Avoiding pigeon-holes

Back in November of last year I was walking through our local library. I noticed original art of a surprisingly ethnic type, on display. There were some rappers, a black Jesus and other pieces. They were well done, just seemingly out-of-place. But it hit me, why shouldn’t my art be in a display case too?

I went to the information desk to find out who was in charge of the showcases. I was directed upstairs to a large office with lots of…books…everywhere. As I waited for the nimble office dweller, I thought about my art. Sometimes it feels as if African-American artists are required to do “ethnic art.” As I look online and in galleries for black artists, I see tribal influenced works, urban scenes, musical and erotic pieces. They are often bold, exaggerated or colorful.

I’m not sure my stuff really fits into any of those categories. Actually, if you didn’t know I was African-American, would my art tell you? Should it? Well, I’ve always seen my race and culture as just two of the factors that define me, not even the most important. Really the strongest visual theme in my art seems to be my identity as a women, and my concern for other women.

Display at Lewisville Public LibraryMarch 2013

Display at Lewisville Public Library
March 2013

Hey, perhaps there are lots of artists of color that I haven’t discovered, simply because their work is not ethnic in a traditional sense. Well, not liking to be pigeon-holed myself, I’ll try not to have preconceived expectations for artists of color. Instead,

I can simply enjoy the diversity their experiences bring to the canvas or potter’s wheel.