fredag den 19. november 2010

5 years as an artist

Amazing! It's already five years ago I decided to take the big step and become an artist. Become is probably not the right word. I've always been an artist, being creative, using my fantasy, finding beauty in every day things and studying shape, colour and light everywhere.

But to dare call myself an artist, to stand by what I make and show it to others - that demanded courage. Could I call myself an artist? Would I like to be called an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? Will people look down at me because I'm an artist, or idealize me? I soon discovered that my biggest hurdles were my own prejudice and expectations to what an artist is.

For instance I grew up in Brazil, in a very conservative environment - even though my mother always encouraged med to be artistic and creative. I realised I expected to be identified with the worst image of an artist: the drunken person, who is so chaotic and desoriented that nobody can trust and who ends up dying in the gutters, poor and sick.

Once I identified the image of an artist I possessed, I started to work towards changing it. For instance, I contacted the Danish Artist Union and became a member. I discovered that many artist are quite organized and reliable people. Artists in Denmark work hard to be seen as workers and tax payers. This is great!

I had to decide on a media in order to concentrate my activities and expenses in one direction. Painting ended up being too expensive (paint spots ended everywhere, on the floor, on the ceiling, on my clothes...) and space demanding. Back in 2005 I lived in a 60 square meter appartment in Copenhagen, with my boyfriend. Ceramics was neither a possibility and photography was again too expensive...

But then I had to make a birthday gift to my good friend, Mette. I had just read something about free machine embroidery in a book and I decided to try it. My old sewing machine, which was probably buildt in the sixties, could only sew straight and zigzag. I managed to sink the feeddogs, but the machinery just wouldn't work right: every 30 seconds the tread broke! I was getting mad! At last I decided to try sewing zigzag with the feeddogs on and gently moving the piece the way I wanted. That went better. The result proved to be good and my friend was really happy for my gift, which I called "Mette's sun" - see the picture above.

I was so happy with the result! I enjoyed the process and the only thing I needed was to continue working with it. But I needed a new machine. My then boyfriend had a very kind mother, Merete, who was once a weaver. She had a Bernina she wanted to lend me. I grew so fond of free machine stiching that I decided that this was going to be my media as an artist.

In Portuguese there's a saying: "Uma andorinha só não faz verão", in a literate translation it says: "A single swallow makes no summer". It means that you need a network in order to make things happen. So I googled and searched and read a lot of stuff on the net, in books and magazines. I discovered a whole world of art quilters and joined SAQA - Studio Art Quilts Associates as soon as I could. What a wonderful world full of gentle ladies and creative souls!

My first exhibit happened in an art gallery in Frederiksberg, in Copenhagen, in Debember 2005 I mananed to make 20 art quilts in 9 months! That was a record I haven't managed to achieve again yet!

Becoming an artist had it's consequences. For instance I moved away from my then boyfriend and out of Copenhagen in May 2006. I moved to the woods in the country side and that's been the best for me, no doubt. Adjusting to a new environment took time and energy, but nevertheless I managed to exhibit several places, hold open studio days and develop my identity as an artist in the public eye with strong PR work. I was soon selling many os my pieces and now I've got this luxury problem that I'm almost out of art work, while exhibition places still show interest in my art work... :-) Not bad!

Two years efter moving to the country side, I met my soul mate, Michael, and we got married this year. As I experience this great energy of consolidation and grounding, I finally feel I'm getting into a period which is clearly more introvert, where I need to and want to work with my art in depth. And I look forward to it!

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