Saturday, 9 May 2015

Letting My Babies Go

After I wrote last week's post on Aparigraha, I realized there was still more to say. If you didn't read last week's post, you might wish to read it first.

I’ve been thinking of babies this week.

It started when I read a post on Facebook about a sock monkey named Melvin who was running for premier in Alberta. (If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know by now that Melvin didn’t make it. Too bad, so sad.)

My friend said that her daughter-in-law makes sock monkeys, and she never dreamed that one of them might grow up and aspire to be a premier. But yes, that’s what babies do – you raise them as best you can, and then you have to release them out into the world to make their way as best they can. At that point, if you know what is good for your child, you will let them go. Aparigraha

I’ve released a few babies out into the world myself, not all of them human.  Last week, I hung my crows up in a local bakery/café called Sweet Surprise. My crow art pieces are like my babies. I create them with great joy, and pour myself into them. And now I was sending my babies – all 9 of them – out into the world, which as you know, can be a cold and cruel place. What if nobody likes them? Or worse, doesn’t even notice them? It’s hard to let go. But I did it. Aparigraha. If I didn’t release those crows out into the world, they’d just be languishing under the bed gathering dust. This wasn’t what their creator had in mind when she started down that road. Each of those crows has a message, and it’s time to let them caw loud and insistently. (You can read about my crows' messages in the post of June 14, 2014.)

So far, according to Heidi, the proprietor of the café, the feedback is overwhelmingly in favour of the dancing crow, which I created to celebrate my 66th birthday.

 I can imagine how the other crows feel about that. When the café is closed at night and all is quiet, they begin their squawking. “Oh, sure, Ms. Centershot, grab the limelight – again. Mom always liked you best, anyway. What about the rest of us?  What are we, chopped liver?” 

No, my dears, I want to say, I love you all. And in fact, knowing that the dancing crow is almost everyone’s favourite is slightly embarrassing. My dancing crow doesn’t have much of a message and furthermore, that piece is not terribly original. I based it on a drawing I found on the internet, adding my own features, but still...

I have not been able to find the name of the artist who posted this on the internet. Can anyone help me? I'd like to give him/her credit.
What does it say about me as an artist that people prefer my derivative, slightly frivolous, art rather than the original stuff? But once you put your babies out into the world, you have to be brave and get ready to take the blowback.

Motherhood, I learned long ago, is not for the fainthearted. You watch proudly as your children march out into the world, and then they go do something like pick their nose in public or belch loudly during a very quiet, sublime part of a concert. Motherhood can be an exercise in humility. Children will do what they will do. And the same applies to artistic motherhood. Are you getting just a teensy weensy bit proud of your work? Ha! Take that! You’re taking yourself too seriously. This reminds me of a comment another writer made when she published her first book: “Putting your work out to the world is like dancing naked in front of a crowd. Everyone sees your imperfections.” Oh, yes!

But we do it anyway. We create with great joy and pour ourselves into our work. And then we let our babies go to be what they are, in hopes that someone, somewhere, will notice. Writer James Baldwin wrote a statement about his craft that applies to any creative work: "You write [create] in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature [creative work] is indispensable to the world ...The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way ... people look at reality, then you can change it."

So I’ve decided that my dancing crow has a message, after all. The world has a lot of garbage to throw your way, but dance anyway! It will make you happy, and I’m pretty sure someone, somewhere, is watching and smiling. You have made a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's not about the degree of serious art in the work but how it makes one feel. Derivative or not, the dancing crow made me smile. My face, brain, and heart instantly smiled involuntarily. So although the artist may have viewed it as frivolity, it obviously touches a universal chord because it goes past the rational and logical to strum my emotion. I think the dancing crow is brilliant!