Feb 9, 2011

my art history - learning to fly again

There's this great place one block from where I work: it's Crossings at Carngegie, a gallery of all things creative: art, music, poetry - if it's creative it's there. 

Please understand, it's not a craft store, it's an art gallery. Craft stores are great; I love them. I spend a lot of money at them. They make me feel crafty. But they are not art galleries.

Marie, the owner, is serious about art - visual arts, musical art, and written art. And she's serious about exposing people to good art and making it available to the people of Southeastern Minnesota. It's a genuine Cultural Arts Center in the heart of Zumbrota, population 2,000.

They also have classes there. All sorts of classes. Clay classes (I'm in one right now, a custom tile making class), painting classes, weaving classes, drawing classes, yoga classes, Spanish classes, dance classes. Every weekend they have concerts. Good concerts. Concerts that make me wish that I lived in Zumbrota.

And Crossings at Carnegie has a clay studio. It is at the clay studio that I spend my lunch hours and Tuesday nights with my other peeps. My creative soul peeps. Who accept me as if I really belong somewhere creative.

When I was an art major in college, I felt like I didn't belong in the art department. I wasn't one of their peeps. There were some pretty talented artists that I went to school with and I'm sure that my professors sifted the chaff from the wheat and knew where to focus their efforts. I helped them by believing my false assumptions and relegating myself to the second class art major distinction. 

I felt like I wasn't esoteric enough, I didn't push the envelope enough, I wasn't angry enough, I wasn't artsy enough. Or fartsy enough. Really, I realize now that I didn't know who I was enough.

I was only 19 at the time, so I don't blame myself - or anyone else. An unfortunate series of circumstances conspired to allow me to have no artistic mentors in my life at that time. Another set of unfortunate circumstances caused me to want to avoid knowing myself.

I think that an artist must at some level be willing to discover the good and bad of themselves. That's something that, at 19, I wasn't willing to do. Heck, I wasn't willing to do it at age 29 either. But here I am, 39, and I'm finally finding me.

Even though I was an art major who didn't feel like she belonged in the art department, I loved my sculpture class. I'm not sure my sculpture prof loved me. He was also my Creativity 101 professor. I was thrilled when he actually put a collage I made up on the wall to display 'good work.' I don't think he noticed me - I didn't bring a lot of attention to myself, good or bad. In fact, he might have been surprised that it was me who's collage he put up when I went to claim it. (I still have that collage, it means a lot to me.)

I really enjoyed my drawing classes, and I thought I did okay in them, but my drawing professor told me to take graphic design, as if he wanted to get rid of me (he didn't teach graphic design classes). I had wanted to take some of the other classes he taught like painting and printmaking, but I was pretty sure that what he was telling me was that I wasn't artsy enough, so I focused on graphic design.

Us graphic design concentrators, we pretty much understood that we weren't quite Shazaam! enough. It was something you got used to, the second class status. I was already used to it. Of course, I think that the graphic design prof only tolerated me. He pretty much let me believe that the yearbook that I was editing was a good thing to focus on. (The interviewers at that one art job didn't seem to agree with that. They seemed to imply that I needed a stronger portfolio. But, whatever.) 

By my senior year I was feeling definitely not artsy enough to be an art major, even though I loved art and wanted with all of me to be creative. Unfortunately, this conflict inside of me caused me to avoid the art building as much as possible. That is, until I took a black and white photography class and I absolutely loved it. I think that the prof might have even thought I was okay at photography. Ironically, he was my advisor who didn't really advise me.

Through my experience as an art major, in which I came to believe that I was not an artist - a real one, anyway - I allowed my frustrated, simmering creative juices to dry up.

learning to fly again
But Crossings at Carnegie has gotten my creative juices flowing again. I'm getting back in touch with my creative side. It's something I've been trying to do for a while now. But since I've been given the task to 'find my voice,' I'm discovering that my voice has a creative sound and it needs to be fed a creative diet. I also don't care anymore whether I look and / or act artsy fartsy enough. Or whether my work is worthy of admiration by certain liberal arts college art professors or not.

If I'm true to me, that's good enough. The flying is in the trying.

One of the nicest compliments I received recently is when Marie, the owner of Crossings, asked me to teach a tile making class to kids this summer.

"But I'm just learning how to do it myself," I said not sure if she understood that I am not an artist.

"I think you can do it," she replied. And then she encouraged me to enter a Poetry / Art Collaboration Exhibition.

"What? But I don't have any Real Art to enter as examples of my work!" I protested.

"I think you can do it. Just enter examples of the work you're doing in the class you're taking right now," she said, as if I were really an artist. Perhaps she said it just to get artists to sign up. Or my entry fee. Nah.

"Okay, I will. If you think I can do it, I'd love to try."

So I can FLY!

My naked unstained tiles.

Close up of my tiles. They're stained, not yet glazed.

"The flying is in the trying."


  1. Awesome work! You will do great teaching kids your passion!

  2. Good for you...a new page and a new challenge.....always produces growth!

  3. julie r - Thanks.

    Penny - Thanks. I am all for growth. (I blogged about our time in Paris, did you see those posts? back in Aug / Sept of 2009. Fond memories of your apartment. Thanks for letting us stay there.)

  4. First, that place sounds amazing. Second, so happy for you to create freely and even look at opportunities to pass it along to kids. Third, I have a friend who's an artist and makes these hearts with wings--one of them (which I desperately want:) made me think of you while reading this--"Then she remembered she had wings." So perfect. One more thing, Megan took a tile class at the Nelson and loved it. May have been her favorite.

    Beautiful work--on every level. Fly Free!

  5. Anne,these are so beautiful. I am so happy that you stopped by my blog and left a comment. I look forward to reading more!

  6. Tea Girl, thank you. I love that "Then she remembered she had wings." I'm going to paint that, I think...

    ThatMom, thank you! I'm so glad that you are That Mom, because I thought I was...


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