worthy of worth

I’ve had this post in my drafts folder for weeks. This isn’t the kind of post I usually write, but I feel beyond compelled to put this out into the world as loudly as I possibly can.

The word, WORTH, has been coming up for me over and over and over again in the last few years. When that happens, I know it’s time to listen. Now, this wasn’t my original plan, but the idea of “worth” has become the cornerstone of the latest talk I’ve been giving as I travel around to promote my new book, “A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK – Now With Women”. Here’s why:

In late 2016 I started thinking about this new book, and I had a flashback to being a first year art student in the early 1990s. I remember, very clearly, asking my art history professor why we weren’t learning about any female artists. Surely Frida and Georgia weren’t the only women who had ever made art? He assured me that there were thousands of women who had been creating for centuries, however, “they weren’t considered worthy enough to be documented”. Not worthy? Well, thank goodness that was in the past… right?

The next time worth, or lack thereof, raised its head was probably later that year during my freshman year at art school. I’d been playing with humor-based work, and was told by my painting professor {I’m paraphrasing, but it went a little something like this}“It’s bad enough that you’re a woman, but if you use humor too? Well, you’ll never be taken seriously as an artist.” Not worthy?

There were so many more experiences through my twenties – both in my personal life and as an artist – that fed into the idea of not having worth, but I digress. Let’s jump ahead to early 2017. I was ready to pitch this new book, my fourth book. I’d had great success with my books on creative blocks and inner critics, and now I wanted to write a big important art book that focused on women. I own so many big important art books but, when you flip through them, there are rarely more than a handful of female artists … if any. How is that possible in this day and age? Well, never mind, I was about to do my part to change that. So I pitched the book. It was rejected. Apparently “it was too niche… people won’t buy a book about women artists.” So I pitched it to four more publishers. I heard exactly the same thing. “It’s too niche… people won’t buy a book about women artists.” Was I seriously hearing that female artists still weren’t considered worthy enough to be documented? IN 2017? I was furious and frustrated… and did I mention furious? Thankfully, it only takes one publisher to say yes, and Running Press was that publisher. Oh yes, it was finally time to write a big important art book!

So, shortly after I began writing in 2017, a little something called the #METOO movement began. There were marches all over the world, led by women, demanding to be heard. Our voices have worth. Our ideas have worth. Our bodies have worth. We have worth. I could hear them on the TV in the background as I wrote. They flashed by me in news stories on Facebook and Instagram. The spotlight was being shone brightly on issues of unequal pay, unequal representation from Hollywood to Wall Street. And, of course, horrible stories of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior in every industry, and in every corner of the world. Literally every woman I know has at least one story, if not more…  hence #METOO. I was furious again.

Early October 2018 – the week the book was to be released – the world held its breath to see if Brett Kavanaugh would be appointed to the United States Supreme Court, after we had all just watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford give her testimony about narrowly escaping being raped by him at a party in high school. Surely she was worthy of being believed? Apparently not. FURIOUS.

Here’s the thing. As women, we’ve been taught to be polite. “Don’t speak up, don’t rock the boat, don’t be a nag, be a good girl”. Add being a creative person to that and – male or female – and self-worth can take another hit. Is what I made good enough? Are my ideas clever enough? Can I charge money for [insert anything here]? {…have you ever had someone ask to buy your work, and you either just give it to them for free, or cut them an insane deal? Yeah, me too. Don’t do that anymore.} 

The answer to all of the questions above is a resounding “HELL, YES.” What you do has worth. Your ideas have worth. The experiences that have brought you to this point in your life have worth. And yes, creativity is absolutely a worthy use of your time. When we get busy, why does our creative practice fall to the bottom of our priority list? It falls below picking up the dry cleaning, for crying out loud! That said, you’d think the first step would be making time in your life for your artwork, but there’s something you have to do first. You have to believe that there is WORTH in making that time. Once you truly believe that, you will make the time – no excuses. You will show up to the studio – no excuses. You will answer “yes” when someone asks if you’re an artist – no excuses. AND, you will never give your work away again. EVER.

You have worth. We all do.

Source: thejealouscurator

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