The first cut is the deepest

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I’m always looking for new ways to express myself. I crochet, make over fashion dolls, cook, make jewelry, and paint. I give myself a new challenge and I go for it. No fear! I’ve decided that I enjoy blogging so much, I want to write. I’ve written a few short stories here and there and all of the obligatory papers and reports for grad and undergrad classes. I now dare myself to write at least 1 maybe 2 short stories in the next few months. I have a goal of getting an article in a lifestyle magazine and possible a few short stories published. I live in Austin and we are an extremely literate town (although, while on the college campus, you might think otherwise).

Passion, new ring in bronze

Why do I think I can write? It’s not that I think I’m an expert in a certain field or that my observations are completely brand new. I would never be a critic! I do believe I have a unique way of seeing things and therefore, writing about them. All anyone can tell me is no. No doesn’t hurt. I’ve learned that you mine as well do what you want. Life is too short to let anyone stop you, a lesson I learned in a very hard way, while in Graduate school. I did my undergraduate work at UT Austin. We focused the cognitive part of art creation, artistic philosophies and executing our ideas. Students worked in a variety of art forms and traditions, including performance, installation and video. It was an extremely nurturing environment.

We choose to go to graduate school in Nacogdoches, located in East Texas, about 1 1/2 hours from the Louisiana border. I got in by the skin of my teeth because I had a good GED score and great recommendations from my former professors. The faculty hated my portfolio! I should have known then and there that the fit for me in the program would not be easy. I was young, full of my artist ego, and 100% naive.

Sunny, new ring in gold

My artwork was constantly challenged on the merits of craftsmanship, how it was hung or installed and the feminist ideas driving the work. I took my fair share of verbal beatings in formal critiques as well as some extra ones thrown in here and there in my studio. I have to admit, I did have a couple of incredible professors, who understood what I was doing, supported my work, and even defended it. I choose 3 of these people to serve on my committee for my thesis. These would be the people to lead me to artistic victory in the department. I had a very successful Master’s exhibition. This was the final piece to the puzzle of having your thesis accepted. My written thesis proposal had been accepted and I passed orals. I made it through all the bs and now I just had to work on my art.

The morning after my exhibition, I bounded into the chairman’s office ready to hear my accolades, finally! I had the few normal detractors (As an artist, not everyone will love your work. That’s just the way it is.) My thesis committee gave me glowing reviews, well 2 of them did. One was quoted for saying I was one of the smartest people to ever come through the program. WOW! But, he continued to say that after seeing my show, he didn’t know if he can further support my work or my thesis! WTF!!!! I left from the office and almost wrecked my bike on the way home. The tears streaming from my eyes blinding me and the horrible hyperventilating that comes from crying so hard, strangling me at the same time. I was destroyed!

Rumors later surfaced that the person who once loved me and now seemed to think I was crap, had a bad opening for his show the weekend before. To his credit, he is a master painter of still life and continues to teach, paint and exhibit his work in galleries throughout Texas. I guess we all have our bad days, but if this was indeed the case and I got blasted for his failings, then I don’t have much respect for him. If he honestly believed my show sucked, he should have been thoughtful enough to speak to me in private before I heard it from the chairman. I survived the ordeal and found another great person to serve on my committee. My resolve was stronger and words like his would never cut so deep again. Those wounds are now calluses.

I’m not scared to do what I want because I learned to survive the haters. They are everywhere and it’s best to let them be the fuel to your fire. I will write and I will be published because I want it and I’m not afraid to go out and get it. Rejection is part of the process and whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. You can’t let fear of approval and harsh words keep you in a cage or stop you in your tracks.

Give the bird to the naysayers when they try to hold you down. They can stand there and watch as you fly away!

Ocean, new ring in gold

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3 responses »

  1. I REALLY like the Sunny and Ocean rings. The colors and the “feeling” or “essence” of them is beautiful. I like them better than the more mixed media rings but that might be because I am older and more conservative.

  2. Rhonda-I would love to see some of your artwork from your thesis. Do you still have any of it? While I was never into art in my younger years, I have become more fascinated with art since my kids have been in high school and I’ve become exposed to some great things kids do. I love watching the art design contest that is on tv (lifetime/bravo?) I can’t recall the name of the show but it really opened my eyes to different ways to express art.

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