When I was studying art at the University of Georgia, I attended a visiting artist lecture during which the artist told us he used to not like sharing his work with others. He said he was afraid people would see his hand in his work – his blood and sweat, his flaws. I related so strongly to this feeling. Maybe all artists feel this way starting out. I know I did. My sketchbook was like a secret diary I wanted to keep hidden. I cringed when I had to turn it in for a professor to review.
I remember another time during a critique our professor was interrupted. He told us to sit there and stare at our work for a minute. “That’s your punishment; or your reward,” he said.
I used to want to create art that was not about me, that did not reveal anything of myself. One day, I realized this is impossible. I remember another art teacher saying everything we create is a self-portrait. That really stuck with me.
Now, what I look for in my work – and in any artist’s work – is evidence of my/their hand. I want to see that organic, irregular, and dare I say – flawed quality. Of course, I still find myself striving for perfection, but in my finished work, I always find evidence of handwork. That’s what makes my work mine. That’s what makes any artist’s work his or her own. That’s what is admirable and precious about it.
And in that we are all connected, I appreciate owning handmade pieces by other artists, and I hope people enjoy owning my handmade works. I think people respond when they see themselves in a handmade object. They take it home to claim as their own – to hang on their wall or wear on their bodies. My pieces evolve from a representation of me to a representation of the wearer. That’s what I strive for. That, I believe, is the magic of art and craft.