Wednesday, April 30, 2008


How do I describe myself as an artist?  Gee.  My first thought is that I don't.  Maybe that is at the heart of my problem.  Am I an artist first and foremost?  No, I'm not.  And personally, I think the word "artist" is a bit generous for this stage of my development.  If someone asked me who I am, I'd say I'm a paid employee, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a gardener, a daughter, a knitter, a scrapbooker, a needlepointer, an avid reader, a sports photographer, ...  See my dilemma?  Artist appears nowhere on the list, although one might argue, not very convincingly in my case I might add, that one or more of my hobbies could transcend craft and become art.

When I think of someone who calls herself an artist, I think of someone who makes her living, however modest, from art.  I would never describe myself to anyone as an artist because my paid employment comes from non-art sources.  Is this an American phenomenon?  To define the person you are by the level of monetary compensation?  Many people would point out that we all have to eat, so it would be natural to talk about your job if you are asked what you do.

But perhaps it's attitude that is at the heart of the creative process - or lack of it.  If a person calls herself an artist, does that internally validate the artistic process and lead to more/better creativity?  If I stopped defining myself as a paid employee and started calling myself an artist, would that change my daily behavior?  I think it would, at least to the extent that I'd spend more time thinking about my art/craft and less time thinking about my job.  Is that a good thing?  I'm not sure, because I still have to work for at least another two years before I can officially retire.

Of course, I'm a TIF challenge participant who does not do art for a living.  So maybe those of us for whom art/craft is an avocation will respond differently to this challenge.  The difficulty for me will be to figure out how to express in fiber or fabric the dilemma I face.  Who am I?  Hmm.  Something to mull over this weekend as I drive to North Carolina to photograph Clemson's club baseball team in the playoffs.  See? Not artist. Photographer, mother, wife, but not artist.

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