Tag Archives: courage

American Girl In A Box

American GirlLet me out.

I’ve methodically worked my way through my house selling clothes, furniture and household possessions. This move I’m planning on making didn’t come to me overnight. I’ve been plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming for a good 4 years. It’s all I’ve talked about to those closest to me and I was sure that my friends had become sick of me droning on about my plans as the years ticked by. I never would have imagined so much emotion displayed at my “All-Things-Art Sale”.

I saved the hardest for last: getting rid of my artwork. I wrote an Evite to everyone I knew who had known me as an artist over the years. If people loved my art and would use it or display it, I would simply ask for a kind donation to help me on my way. I slashed my prices, for it was more important for me to find good homes for my creations than it was for me to make a lot of money. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to sell quite a bit of my artwork, but I’ve kept the unsold pieces in careful storage. Like a litter of kittens, these pieces brought me joy and came with so many memories, but I had to find them new homes.

All Things Art SaleThroughout the day, dear friends wandered in and out of my home looking at a retrospective of 30 years of artwork displayed. Some were uncomfortable and one friend told me that it made her feel like I was dead and she was going through my belongings at an estate sale. Many of my guests have watched me grow through different series and concepts in my artwork and to see it laid out all together was, in a way, a historic type of event. I was questioned about how I could let it all go and I explained that for years and years, I had been interested in getting my name recognized in the Dallas art scene. I worked at meeting gallery owners, art collectors and other artists. I’ve spent years and years doing this dance, in hopes of getting a gallery show that could then be added to my resume. I wanted to be respected and associated as a Dallas artist, and I’ve been somewhat successful. I listened to several friends verbally process their interpretation of what I was doing. With tears in her eyes, one friend said, “I feel like I am robbing you.” I responded, “You’re not robbing me – you’re freeing me!” It’s been a great ride, and I’m so grateful for all the experiences, but this Dallas based, American Girl is about to crawl out of her box.

I recently read an article in the New York Times called, “You Won’t Be The Person You Expect To Be” . It is a fascinating article, by John Tierney, about how our personalities and tastes change over the years. The phenomenon, called “end of history illusion,” occurs when people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” When we humans look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same.” Of course we don’t. “Middle-aged people often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.” Even as recent as 6 years ago I would have never imagined that I would be selling everything I own to travel the world and work overseas.

Life is short. What box do you want to crawl out of?

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A Global Commodity

Art and pork bellies.

One hundred thirty eight years ago, in 1874, a group of artists gathered in Paris to show their artwork to the public inside a former photographer’s studio. Many of these artists had been rejected by the Salon, the royally sanctioned French institution that determined if artwork was acceptable, satisfactory and superior. The influence of the Salon was absolutely undisputed, and for an artist to exhibit in their space meant their artwork was excellent. The artist was almost fully guaranteed to be successful. After being rejected from showing their work at the Salon, several artists set up their own exhibition and the public ridicule commenced. Not only were their paintings thought of as crudely rendered, they had disregarded the element of line and changed the color of objects and landscapes from the appearance of reality! (Can you imagine!!) According to the historical critique, The Exhibition of the Revoltes, written by Emile Cardon for La Presse, the artists’ “scribblings” both sickened and disgusted. One can imagine how horrible these paintings must have looked to have received such a disparaging description. How embarrassing, right? Didn’t these artists know how horrible their work was? Why on earth would they go to such measures to invite criticism? Often, contemporary art is described in this way. You may be surprised to learn that these rebellious, seemingly untalented artists, who refused to accept the jurors’ assessment, are none other than some of the 21st century’s most beloved artists:  Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Renoir.

Throughout history, it is not uncommon for the public to disregard the cutting edge artwork being produced and exhibited in the current culture. We’ve all known incidences in which people say, when walking through a gallery or museum, “My kindergartner could have done that.”

But the fact is . . . they didn’t.

In The History of Impressionism, author, John Rewald says, “It requires tremendous courage and limitless faith to overcome such adversities…” He goes on to say, “How hard it must be for the timid, and even for the self-confident and ambitious, for the poor, and even for the rich, to stand up under constant derision without being paralyzed in their creative efforts!”

Over the past month, I’ve attended three contemporary art fairs. The first one was the Dallas Art Fair, where I live, and the other two were in New York: Pulse and Frieze, which are both international in scope. Granted, some of what I saw bewildered even me, a professional, contemporary artist who has been making and exhibiting art for 30 years. Yet, I was truly inspired by most pieces I saw. As a working artist, I know the dedication and courage it takes to both produce the work and then to put it on public display. My skin has become thick enough that negative commentary about my work bounces off, for the most part.

The courage that is necessary to produce and exhibit a piece of artwork is not dissimilar to the courage needed to break out of the routine life many of us find ourselves in. When people become brave enough to mold their lives in an unconventional way, whether through travel or career, many people are quick to condemn. Life is short. Do what your heart is leading you to do. Be brave. Do it. There may be many who condemn, but surprisingly, you are sure to find a community that will support you. And once you become brave enough to start forming words to verbally express what you are considering, you will begin to hear the applause from your fans and well-wishers.

Build it and they will come.

In this excellent episode on 60 Minutes, Morley Safer describes the current, contemporary art scene, as it relates to international art fairs and the global economy.  It is well worth your time to watch.

It is encouraging to hear that when our world economy suffers, contemporary art is thriving. Please watch and tell me how you’ve been brave!

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Same as it ever was (Part 3 of 3)

Once in a lifetime.

Reminiscing about David Byrne and the Talking Heads brings back a torrential downpour of pleasant memories. These musical-memories connect significantly to a transition time in my life: graduating from college, getting married and moving out of state. In the mid-1980’s, my then-husband and I moved from Missouri to Texas to begin a new life. Recently graduated from college, we were psyched to land our first jobs and start down our career path, which for me meant beginning the climb up the corporate ladder. My imaginative dreams were centered on my new marriage, my new job, buying our first new car, buying our first home and eventually becoming parents. My mind couldn’t fully wrap around all these new, upcoming changes, but I was excited and hopeful about my future.

None of these dreams turned out exactly the way I thought they would. I could have never predicted the end results of my hopes and expectations. More than once I awoke, seemingly from a deep sleep, and thought, as Bryne’s lyrics read, “My God! What have I done?” There’s no way that we can fully predict what our lives will be, even with all the research we do and all the well wishes and prayers from friends and family. But life is wonderfully mysterious and I wouldn’t trade in any of my experiences, both the good ones and the bad ones, for they’ve brought me to where I am today. Life is full of transitions and I find that I am still excited and hopeful about my future as I seriously consider moving overseas.

And You May Find Yourself Living In A Shotgun Shack

And You May Find Yourself In Another Part Of The World

And You May Find Yourself Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile

And You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House, With A Beautiful Wife

And You May Ask Yourself-Well…How Did I Get Here?

This rendition of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”, is recorded by Robert Luis:

When I went to Europe for the first time in 2006 I remember thinking, “I belong here. This feels like home. Surely I was born here and my parents adopted me into the USA and just have never told me!” How did I get here (USA)? “This is not my beautiful house,” as the song goes. But my mother assures me that I wasn’t adopted and that I am truly American! I often feel like a foreigner in my own country. I long to live a slower, more observant, less cluttered lifestyle. Every minute of every day is a “once in a lifetime” possibility. The next time I ask myself, “My God! What have I done?” I want to honestly and peacefully answer the question in a way that shows love, bravery, courage and trust.

Part 3 of 3: SA (Search Associates)

This article concludes with my research about the international educational recruitment company, Search Associates (SA). In my previous two posts I explained what I have found out about UNI (University of Northern Iowa) and ISS (International Schools Services).  SA has been in existence for more than 21 years. Not only have they helped teachers find positions in international schools around the world, they also place administrators and interns. Their current website boasts that in 2011 they set a record by helping 2,198 candidates secure positions abroad.

SA works with more than 600 schools, compared to ISS who works with about 150 schools. SA feels confident they are the best educational recruitment company because of the personal attention they give to both candidates and schools. For instance, once I completed my online application and SA had received recommendations from my administrators, my file was considered “active” and I was assigned a Senior Associate who will personally assist me throughout the entire search process. I was given her email and phone number so that I can reach her at all times. Additionally, because my file is active, I receive a daily log of SA represented schools that are currently seeking teachers and administrators. Since my file became active in March 2012, I’ve been tracking how many art positions have been posted. I’m delighted to report that there have been 23 art teaching positions listed to date, and this is really late in the hiring season! Keep in mind that most positions for the 2012-13 school year have already been placed.

Although my file is considered active, my online profile will not be made known to seeking schools until I pay my membership dues. Once I pay $200, I will have access to SA for three years and interested schools can review my credentials. I will have access to job openings, salaries and benefits and I will be able to contact schools directly through the database upon notification of an opening in one of my listed preferences. Interested schools will be able to email me directly, set up interviews or ask for additional information. The first SA educational recruitment fair is free and each additional fair is $50, although all job fairs are by invitation only. Both candidates and schools that are fully registered may request invitations. In comparison, ISS charges $290 for all fairs in a season. Search Associates offers 13 annual job fairs worldwide between November and June. These fairs allow candidates and schools to have face-to-face interviews to determine if there is a mutual interest and a good “fit” between the school and candidate. In addition, Search Associates keeps their fairs small in order to provide maximum support for candidates and schools.

There are many more educational recruitment companies, but I’ve limited my search to these three: UNI, ISS and SA. In my last post I described the wonderful resource, International Schools Review (ISR) which allows open dialogue, through a forum, on a host of subjects centered around teaching internationally. On this website you will find many opinions about the differences of these companies. Some people prefer one company over another for a host of reasons. Many international educators never attend a fair at all. After paying their application fee, they contact the seeking schools directly and are accustomed to interviewing over Skype.

In the ISR article called, “How Do International Educators See Their Careers?” Bill says, “I left as soon as I got my BEd and never looked back. Best decision I could have ever made. I was looking to explore the world, learn about new cultures and languages, work in schools that value teachers and provide a stimulating work environment. Next year, will be my 4th international school and my 12th year overseas. Sometimes I think about going back for a couple of years but I really do enjoy this life too much to do so.”

Is teaching internationally a once in a lifetime opportunity? I think it may be. I’d be interested in what once in a lifetime opportunities you’ve been given.

Thanks for reading!

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