Monday, July 21, 2008

My Worst Nightmare

What is your worst nightmare? I actually have a series that occur depending on what's happening that is currently stirring up my personal phobias. When I'm teaching, I have nightmares about getting lost on the way to class, frantically trying to find art materials for a class starting in minutes, etc. This print refers to the nightmares I had when Mathew was in the hospital as a preemie. Don't worry, he's now 19 and doing fine. In this print, I'm peering into his incubator as rats threaten to do awful things to him that I don't even want to describe here.

I guess this image could be classified as art as therapy.

Which brings me back to the question of what does it mean to people when you say you are an artist. What is an artist, anyway? An article in the New York Times Book Review, June 1, by Marisha Pessl has a paragraph in it that addresses these questions. Here is the quote:

" 'Artist' can't make even the briefest public appearance without extensive baggage. The next time you're at a party and someone asks you what you do for a living, boldly say artist, then sit back and watch the jolting effect that little word has upon a conversation. Above 14th Street, the person will smirk, dutifully ask 'What kind?' or appear to start swallowing an egg, which is a disguised yawn. You'll get a hug in the Midwest. In Santa Monica, you'll get 'sweet' and an in invitation to go Rollerblading. In certain parts of the country you'll get tied up and thrown into the back of a pickup truck, and no one will ever hear from you again."

All of the above reactions could fall into my worst nightmare category. There really isn't any standard way to know you are an artist except to believe that you are. And confessing that you think you are an artist to anyone is totally different that being able to tell someone you are a doctor or banker or grocery store clerk. Who knows what their reaction will be.