Sunday, April 26, 2015

Making the self public. . . .

An artist puts images into the world.
A writer writes and puts it into print.
and sometimes the subject is boldly and obviously the self; other times, the subject is the self hidden in the story or image.
I think, perhaps, all creative work is about the self, and expressing the self.

My art show opens next Friday, and along with the show, I put together a "catalog" of art journal entries spanning 30 years. I have been worried about sending something so private into the world.
"Ha", you say, "she writes of private things right here on this blog, what gives?"

Somehow putting it in print and having it available for everyone seems scarier.  This blog post was found by you, probably because you are interested in art journaling.  Friends and family seem to never read this, or if they do, no one mentions it.  I get hardly any comments (they are filtered to stop spam, so maybe that's it?) so I often feel like I am writing to myself.

Recently I read two very powerful memoirs.

One, My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, is a series of 6 books written about his life and difficult situation with his father.  It's been compared to Proust's Memories of Time Lost and I think will become very well known the next few years as a literary masterpiece.  I can't say why it's so compelling, other than his writing is so heart-felt and so direct and so real, you feel like you are a Norwegian man living in Sweden, observing his wife and children and writing about the immense struggle with his relationship with his father.  He is a brilliant writer, and so honest it almost takes your breath away as you enter his world.

Another memoir I just finished is called Storm of the i by Tina Collen.  A friend told me about this book, and reading it I am so struck by our life parallels.  Tina is also a very honest and direct writer, a very creative artist, who struggled her whole life with a difficult relationship with her father.  Her book includes lots of her art, fold-outs, ephemera, and I think it is brave and brilliant and very revelatory.

It also reminded me how scary it is to put it out, and at the end of the book she says her brother-in-law kindly warns her no one reads a memoir unless the person is famous.  Well, that's partially true, but if a hundred people, or ten, or even one reads, and absorbs the lessons and power of the telling, it's a job worth doing.

or so I tell myself.

So as I am about to send my little journaling memoir into the world, and put up a pile of art at Inspire Life Studio next Friday, I was so helped and encouraged by both Karl Ove's and Tina's willingness to be vulnerable, open, and painfully themselves on display for the world to both love and hate, as the world tends to do.

The act of saying "I Matter" is something everyone should be able to do.  Seeing others do this really helps.  So here I go. . .

and here is self-portrait of me at Inspire Life Studio:

"The journey from the head to the heart is the longest to take."
--William Sloan Coffin


  1. Interesting thoughts. I love how your exploration of memoirs helped you come to terms with putting this new work out into the world. Thanks for sharing these reflections.

    Best wishes on your art show. I hope many blessings happen as a result of your sending your art out into the world.

  2. Thanks, Lynda, that's a beautiful comment. It is a weird thing these days, the way we put so much of ourselves on line for the world to see, and yet still, hanging an art show feels so vulnerable.