to everything there is a season
In another season, that may as well have been in another lifetime but was only five months ago, my life changed. Or rather, I changed my life. I left my desk job, began this blog, opened an online shop, and registered a business. I named it after one of my tattoos, two tigers inspired by a book of old Chinese ink drawings, alike but unique, placed in a yin yang position as a symbol of both balance and completion. Since autumn 2002, they have been perched on the back of my left shoulder as guardians and reminders of the spirit of fierce pursuit and wise poise I wish to bring to all my endeavors, but never have I needed to draw upon their strength and grace as I have this year. When the time came to create a signature image for my new professional artistic activities, the obvious choice was some rendering of this old tattoo. After many failed attempts to re-create it, I simply turned my back on the mirror over the sink in my bathroom, stood on tiptoe, and took the photograph you see in the banner at the head of this page. It strikes me now that all the elements that went into this capture – resourcefulness and spontaneity, something familiar, yet requiring a literal stretch to achieve, self-reflection and self-revelation – were ideal auspices for the new life ahead.
In one of those amazing instances of good timing and good fortune that occasionally befall me, the newsletter pictured above, the biannual publication of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, of which I am a graduate, showed up in my mailbox last week. I recalled sending a thumbnail image and a quick alumnae update to their website months ago as I began my brave new life, and that it was the first time I really felt I had anything legitimate and worthwhile to announce to such a readership. Imagine my delight when my image was chosen to grace the cover of the bulletin of a multidisciplinary academic arts program that is now considered one of the best in the country, appropriately one about which most of its students claim “it changed my life!” In January 2003, a few months after receiving my two tigers tattoo on a visit home to New York, and a month after turning 40, I received my MFA in poetry in what I consider my second home, Vermont, after avoiding the perils of traditional schooling for nearly two decades. But this place is nothing if not untraditional. The students are all ages, from all over the country and world, and many have full rich busy lives outside of the arts they are somehow still amazingly devoted to and talented at producing. They are not concerned with following trends or making it big, just making good work, better work, the best of which they are capable. Then something wonderful happens, and these unprepossessing outsiders, misfits and underachievers start publishing, and showing, and performing everywhere. Receiving this item in the mail was the perfect way to reaffirm how far I have come in 2010 and how far I will go in 2011.
spoiled for choice
One of the things I’ve come to understand along the way is that while I have an inner need for peace, quiet and singularity of purpose, I am always going to be one of those people who can’t just do one thing and certainly can’t do nothing at all for very long. I’ve spent a lot of time this year trying to choose between being a writer, a photographer and a maker of apparently highly desirable crocheted accessories, and have finally decided that Two Tigers Creations is all of those things – written works, photographic works, and yes, even a seasonal line of fiber works that are a little less than art but a lot more than craft. I’m a maker of things. I am happiest when engaged in the process of creation at some level – the planning, the execution, the completion, and the true conclusion in the joy of handing something I made to a stranger and knowing it gives them joy. I can’t and won’t choose between the ways I can do this. If this means violating one of the cardinal rules of self-promotion and marketing, which is to specialize and streamline, the better for the limited attention of the public and dealers to grasp who you are and purchase what it is you have to offer, so be it. I’d rather enjoy doing three things I love and always feel I am not giving enough time to each, than do just one and always feel I have abandoned some essential part of my creative motives and mission.
This is the week I (and others I’m sure) typically spend time looking back or looking forward, cleaning up or clearing out the old to make way for the new, whether it’s closets and files or a soulsearching review of the year. I do all of that, filling bags with shredded paperwork, and also making lists of what I am proud of and grateful for, and where I found myself lacking, and finally constructing a highly flexible and provisional plan for both my soul’s journey and my practical agenda in the months ahead. I thought I’d share some of this online, as they say that announcing things to the universe by offering them in written form or spoken aloud is a good way of letting the universe know you mean business. And I do mean business this year, literally, because one of the main headings on my To Do list is to Be a Better Businesswoman, right next to Be a Better Artist and Take Better Care of Myself and Others. I have barely begun this list and it already bears the mark of a former library assistant’s zeal for organization, classification and a ruthless attention to detail, so I’ll give you instead the spirit of the Better List, which is to make peace with the ongoing challenge of balancing financial necessities and creative urgencies, including better self-promotion online and off (yes, this means you will see me on facebook soon, just in time for it to be replaced by something else!), revisiting the darkroom skills I learned many years ago among other ways of exploring classic photographic techniques, tools and presentation, a new book of poems and photographs, a calendar, and the item that never leaves my list from year to year – lose 15 pounds!
yesterday and forever
As for what I am most proud of and grateful for, see above. Thank you, Brian. And thank you, all you good blogfolks who follow me and support, inspire and encourage me though we have never laid eyes on each other and don’t even share a time zone or in some cases a language or a continent! I wish you the best for a new year full of courageous acts of creativity, good health and positive progress for mind body and soul, and new discoveries and pleasures where you expect them least and when you need them most!
Gone for the year - see you in 2011!