Splashing around in the muck and the mire

Sometimes you get stuck.

Sometimes you get so stuck that you realize your inability to move is causing you to sink. A cascade of misfortunes starts to build, and you hit what feels like a creative rock bottom. 

I recently enjoyed one such day, and it caused me to doubt everything I’d been working on for the last few months. My show at Artists on Santa Fe Gallery was a few weeks away, and the misfortune cascade had been hitting hard. Tools and equipment had malfunctioned, techniques that usually get me from point A to B were kicking me off the alphabet entirely, and I realized my perfect set of transfer illustrations weren’t going to perfectly transfer into metal. 

Being pregnant stopped me from working the long hours that I needed to turn it around. Time and luck were not on my side, and no amount and anger and tears was going to change that.

I was stuck.

I started to take my frustrations out on my work. I allowed — even angrily encouraged — mistakes and flaws to take over. I began to realize that no matter how hard I try to force things to work out perfectly, the unpredictability of life and the creative process would take its course.

Being the perfect multi-tasking woman — entrepreneur, artist, wife, mother — is a goal generated by an imagined reality full of unrealistic expectations. The end result we read about in articles, see in galleries, and observe online rarely represents the imperfect process and hours spent building something. 

More than that, isn’t art about expressing something that’s bottled up, turning an idea or emotion into something that others can experience and feel? I often get stuck on making pretty things, when concepts that represent my own ideas, fragility, and complexities are the pieces that people can relate to, whether they know the story or not. Does perfect craft reach those delicate expectations, or does it need a touch that’s more human?

Something clicked and I embraced what I was being dealt, rather than what I intended.

What better way to represent myself through art than amplifying the mud I was stuck in?

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