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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Bradbury

Art For Art's Sake

You haven’t heard from me in quite some time. I haven’t had anything to say. Inspiration, Motivation, and Creativity all seem to have finished their drinks and given me the Irish goodbye, backing surreptitiously out of the studio hoping not to be missed. I miss them, but not enough to ask them back (screw them anyway!), so I haven’t been working.

What I have been doing is a lot of thinking. About making art and showing it to people and trying to market it and the pressure to show and sell and why I do all that to myself. All the energy spent finding places to exhibit work, entering juried shows, posting images to the Socials is For What? So someone who didn’t imagine it and feel it and make it can judge whether it is “good” or not? I mean, it is my hope that my work evokes some emotion in the viewer, but ultimately it’s about someone saying “I like it” or “I don’t like it”. One feels like a validation, the other, like some version of the middle school teacher who wrecked your dreams and aspirations with one unthinking comment. It’s tough to keep putting things you’ve birthed out into the world and having to slink in to the gallery to pick them up when the show is over and they haven’t sold. Sharing my work in these ways these days feels like I’m setting myself up for this kind of unpleasant judgement over and over.

Another quite practical piece of this puzzle is that when you make art, lots of art, and big art, well, then you have a lot of big art! And it takes up space! I hang it, pile it, lean it against the walls, shove it under guest beds, and stuff it in closets. Honestly, if you don’t sell it, what the heck do you do with it? Sometimes I just paint over things, but sheesh, it stacks up!

I’m trying to devise a clever plan so I can solve these problems for myself and maybe even ask the three party poopers back into the studio. I have decided not to show my work this year once my current show closes (I reserve the right to change my mind on this). I’m keeping it all to myself. I’m going to work small, and only in a workbook/journal/sketchbook (I prefer workbook, but then nobody knows what I mean). I’m going to work with mixed media and collage, which I am very uncomfortable with. Maybe I’ll grow to enjoy it and make things I don’t hate. Maybe not. It matters not; no one will see it but me. At some point, I may share it once a week or once a month in a blog post or newsletter through my website, but no process pics, no Instagram, no Facebook.

Art for art’s sake and for my sake alone. Because this is supposed to be fun.

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