I broke things.
It didn't seem like something I'd do. But it felt right.
Since late summer I've been experimenting. Drawing and painting, trying new things, and reveling in the freedom of it all. I've felt this amazing ability to let go of the guilt one usually gets when not doing what one is "supposed to be doing".
I’ve felt taken over by creativity, and I’ve allowed myself to let it happen. It's been a gift.
But, I've got responsibilities, timelines, goals, and a Fiber Art Project Grant. The free-wheeling can’t continue indefinitely. Which, I'm not going to lie, has been a tough fact to face.
Fitting the Broken Pieces Together – in a New Way
For a while I actually thought I would have to give up on my textile art. It was simply too hard to pull myself away from drawing and painting with pastels. That amazing feeling of flow that I’ve been experiencing when I draw and paint, has been a true siren call.
I reminded myself that it wouldn't be in my own best interest to not complete what I had set out to do. Also, did I really want to give back the $5,000 I received for the Project Grant? Did I really want to tell the wonderful people who awarded me that money that I was giving up?
Not at all.
What I needed to do was pick up all the pieces I broke and figure out a new way to put them together. A way that would work for me now, in my new place.
I got serious and wrote down a daily routine for myself that would allow me to fit in all the parts.
The Ah-ha! Moment
Writing it down was the easy part. As I struggled to start my new routine, I realized something huge. The fiber work was feeling really hard. Not because I didn’t like it anymore. No; but because in my mind it felt scary. Unlike when I created textile art in the past, this time the stakes are high: I have a Grant, an upcoming Exhibition, and Very Important People to please and impress.
The pastel work, on the other hand, is just for me. It has an experimental feeling and there are no stakes.
I realized that I needed to take the pressure off my textile work. I didn't want to get started on it again because it felt so risky and I was having a fear of failure. So, using what I learned from my research on creativity – in fact, exactly what got me started on pastels – I decided to re-frame things in my head.
I told myself, the next textile piece I made would be a warm-up. Like when you’re learning a new card game and the first round you play is just to get the rules figured out. No pressure; just explore. Plus, you know that Picasso quote: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” I needed to get to work.
And what do you know. For two weeks now, I’ve had my new routine working. That first week, I created a piece of textile art that I don’t know how I feel about. It’s not so great – but who cares, it was only for practice. The real point of that piece was that it helped me get into the new routine.
I’ve started to realize these seemingly disparate undertakings are all part of my year-long Jerome Project Grant. All of it: researching creativity, breaking my routine, experiencing the freedom of the pastel work, the challenge of getting back to textile work, discovering the necessity of a new routine.
Actually, sorting out all of this has accomplished exactly what I wanted when I originally wrote my grant proposal last May:
I’ve gone through all of this to discover my new studio art practice. Wow.
I'm starting to settle into my new routine. It includes both textile art and pastel painting. Things are flowing easier. I’m feeling inspired by both mediums. In fact, every day I feel like pinching myself because I can hardly believe I got what I wished for: a studio art practice.
It feels good.
On a summery Saturday afternoon in late June, I got a letter in the mail from the Textile Center. It was very slim. Definitely just one sheet of paper inside. Letters that slim are always letters declining an application, right? Right. It must be a letter to let me know that I did not get the grant, the one whose proposal I had so rigorously worked on for weeks and weeks the previous month.
But yet, I had a good feeling about this grant.
I took the letter out to my backyard. After taking a seat and a deep breath, I slowly opened the letter. Yes, it was just one sheet of paper, but I quickly spotted the word "congratulations" in bold print! In fact, it said, "Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant for 2018-19."
And so for the next 10 months I am on a journey of discovery. This grant has provided me with the opportunity, the time, and the funds to explore the ideas I find most interesting. And to create art! I'm beyond honored and humbled to have received it.
The Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant is amazing. For one, I will be supported throughout the duration of the grant period. I still feel like I'm new to the world of textile art, and I'm happy to take all the help and input I can get. But, of course, the most exciting part is that the grant process will culminate with an exhibition of my art at the Textile Center in the spring of 2019. That will be thrilling!
I hope you'll follow along on my journey. I plan to blog about what I'm up to, and I'll also be posting my in-progress work on Instagram.
Of course, I can't continue without saying thank you to the Textile Center for this amazing opportunity! And thank you to the jurors for their belief in me!
Below is the announcement of the recipients of the Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant for 2018-19.
At the bottom is a slide show of the photos I submitted with my proposal.
You can find out more about the Jerome Project Grant here.
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.