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Joining Community

Learning from Others

So much of visual art happens in a vacuum. It’s just you and your studio and your own private battles putting pencil to paper. Super social art form it is not. Honestly it's one of the things I love about visual arts. You get to do your creativity in private. (Unlike filmmaking which is so wholly a social art form...and that is terrifying.) Isolation can feel like a normal state.

And while that may be true, at some point a few months ago I looked around and realized that I didn’t want it to be the normal state for me anymore. That the act of creating art was also generating a whole host of questions that couldn’t be met by me and my brain in isolation. And one thing led to another and in that past two weeks I’ve met more Portland visual artists than I have in my previous three years of living in Portland.

And it’s been amazing.

An artist in my first ARTistica class today said that she was tired of being surrounded by people who told her she couldn’t make a living doing art. She wanted to be surrounded by a group of people that believed, like her, that that life was possible. When I heard her speak those words I felt a door unlocking. A quiet connection that I hadn’t realized had ever been shut.

I have been incredibly lucky to grow up in a family and community that has been supportive of my artistic endeavors, but there was something about having another artist say those words that made me feel like I had come home. She was from the same place as me. Maybe not in life. Maybe not in circumstance. But in art. We were from the same place in that. And because of that, I’ve never been more excited to get back into my studio and create. Because art, the work, may happen in isolation, but excitement and support and encouragement and all of those other things take a community. And I have taken the first step in finding mine.

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