After trying to make it as a metalsmith or an artist for something over 20 years – I give up. Most people give up sooner, but I am very stubborn.
My timing is odd, since I was just featured in Professional Artist Magazine and will have work in another magazine next quarter.
I’m not quitting art, but I am quitting trying to make money from it. People love my art, they connect and laugh when they see Our Ladies of Perpetual Housework. They are moved, a select few people, when they see some of my grief work, such as the medal, The Society of Mothers of Dead Babies. Both of those reactions mean a lot to me. That’s what it’s about, that’s part of why I make art and why I like to display it in libraries, where people are anyway, where they don’t have to make a special trip to see it.
For more than 20 years, I have taught art making at art centers all over the midwest, including the Indianapolis Art Center, Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, Hinsdale Center for the Arts*, UIC’s Center Studios*, Expressions Graphics, the Oak Park Art League and so many more. *I’ve been at this so long some of those places no longer exist.
Most recently, I taught art at a cancer patient and caregiver support center for two years. I’ve also taught art workshops at libraries, done interactive art experiences at libraries and conferences and led Girl Scouts painting murals, one of those murals is in the collection at Chicago’s international hostel.
I’ve done lots of amazing stuff and tried and tried and tried different ways to make a decent living from art related activities, while also being true to myself and my art and also raising children.
And now, I give up. I am mostly not teaching art right now. I’m writing about craft and art as a paid freelance writer. I’m making my art and I have a new project, but it seems a little odd to tell you about it in the context of this post, doesn’t it? Or maybe not. I’m being real here, and not in an Instagram-faux-vulnerability way.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I posting this on my blog, which is supposed to be a non-stop string of success stories and encouragement to you to keep going in your creativity?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because when I gave up on trying to make money from art, I also gave up on the pretending, the constant effort to look successful. It’s exhausting, and I just want to tell you the truth, where I stand and what I’m doing now.
Where I stand is that art is important and I will keep making the art that must be made. I will keep up my studio practice. I will not post on Instagram about it, I’ll just do it.
Where I stand is that I’m frustrated with systems that pay everyone but the artist.
Where I stand is that I’m tired.
Where I stand is that I know, I believe that some people can make a living with their art, but I don’t seem to be one of those people.
Will I be able to maintain my commitment to my studio practice, if there’s no hope of earning money? How will I present myself to the world?
I don’t know. But I’ll blog about my progress and let you know.