Art and the Artist

Hi. I’m new here, so I thought I’d introduce myself.

My name is Una. I’m a writer, artist, and editor. I have an MA in philosophy. I’m a small-town kid in the big city, the youngest (by far) of three children, and a standard-issue awkward introvert. My hobbies include handsewing clothes, drawing, and seeing how long I can go without face-to-face human interaction. Yes, I like getting caught in the rain, but you can shove that pina colada up your Tropic of Capricorn and pass me a beer. Actually, I’d appreciate it if you passed the beer first. Thanks.

But those are all just details. If you really want to know who I am, let me tell you why I make art.

Art, in all its forms, is first and foremost an act of self-expression. It doesn’t matter what your art is, or how complex or simple your creations are, or even if you share your creations with anyone else. You are pulling back the curtains and revealing yourself, even if you are your own audience.

This expression is deeply personal and requires the artist to be open and vulnerable. Most of us shy away from looking at ourselves too closely out of the fear that we might not like what we find. We are often quick to deflect criticism not only because we fear what others will think of us, but also because we fear what we might come to think of ourselves. Making art, however, requires that we acknowledge ourselves as flawed beings and face the possibility of failure. This requires a tremendous amount of courage.

Art demands that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to let go of control and allow ourselves to be afraid. In her talk The Power of Vulnerability, Brené Brown reminds us that we cannot simply choose which feelings we are going to have. We can’t shut off fear and pain without shutting out joy and pleasure, and the very act of creation is a personal investment and, therefore, it produces an emotional experience.

Vulnerability is also what makes emotional connection possible. Art is about connecting, first to ourselves and then to each other. By creating something, not only do we tap into our own individual talents and resources, but we are also forced to confront our personal limitations. When faced with our own inadequacy, perceived or otherwise, we must decide whether to push ourselves to develop a skill that is lacking, find another path to the solution, or give up altogether. Our choices show us who we really are. The better we know ourselves and the more secure we feel, the more we are able to reach out to others and the more responsive others will be to us. Creating art is a means of baring your soul; sharing it with others is an invitation for them to expose theirs.

So, I make art to connect. I want to do something, to say something, to be seen and heard. I want to feel and I want to share that feeling. I want to see and hear and understand. I want to know if your inner universe is like mine, so let’s go get that beer.