Searching for Ground Exhibition
It's been a long time coming - my first exhibition of artworks in Canada. It comes at a time of great change for me personally, and the name of the exhibition - Searching for Ground - speaks into my journey as an artist and how it has led me here, to Kamloops, and to an arts community that are warm, interesting, lively, but above all - accepting.
I haven't always put my art front and centre through the years. In recent years, I've felt drowned out by the sheer volume of artists everywhere from Pinterest, Instagram and other social media; to local arts communities and the cities that feed into them. Surrey and Vancouver have massive arts communities and it is difficult to get your name heard, let alone acknowledged. To be honest, I didn't try too hard anyway - always intimidated by the reverance that is reserved for artists hailing from instistutions such as Emily Carr School of Arts. I felt inadequate, frankly, and so my art stayed hidden from view. Unless I was called upon to do a commissioned work by someone I knew, I seldom ventured out with my art, except online - into forums swimming with thousands of other artists, such as Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Fine Art America. It was all so overwhelming and so disappointing, and it made me back right off of being an artist trying make a name for myself, instead focusing my energy on photography and writing - yet more arenas in which you clamber for attention along with hundreds of thousands of others. I think I'm a sucker for punishment, pitting my creative talents against the avalanche of creatives already crowding over each other for a second in the spotlight. I got a second in the spotlight a few years ago when a photo of mine, Sulking Tulips, was made the National Geographic Photo of the Day from all the thousands of photos submitted online each day to the Your Shot portfolio. It went on to be one of the Best of June 2014 photos too - I was very pleased, but nothing else ever came of it. As soon as my day was over, I was forgotten and the momentousness of that selection was mine, alone, to remember. I've also published a book about Authentic Creativity - which I think is really good, and is not dissimilar to a best-selling book I read recently that espouses much of the same wisdoms I came to understand as an artist over my long and varied career. Yet, I've sold only a small number of copies, because as a very niche book, it hasn't attracted a large audience and it has languished in the nethers online, not being seen by all that many people, essentially invisible - almost two years of work - invisible. It is a conundrum, to be sure. Attempts at marketing the book in Vancouver fell on deaf ears, and it soon became too onerous a task to continue to push it as a project, so I have let it rest, rethinking my strategy.
With our family's move to Kamloops, has come a profound change in my ability to successfully enter the arts environment. There are not that many artists in town, and unlike in Vancouver and Surrey where new artists are given no blind bit of notice; here, it's important that you've come and are joining their small group of creatives. Here, my art is on the walls of a gallery - six months after moving to town! My book is being displayed in that gallery too, and people have shown interest beyond what I could have expected. Art classes have been talked about, pottery has been enjoyed, and skills I bring with me have been recognised for the value they can bring to the mix. I haven't hit the photo scene in a big way yet, but all the rest has kept me far busier than I could have anticipated. It truly is like coming home. I see the value in these communities comes from a sense that we're all in it together and that no one deserves top spot any more than the next. There is enough space for every artist to grow and thrive, and what's more, they help and support you as you emerge as a new artist in their community. I've been welcomed in ways that have taken me by surprise, because I felt so undeserving of the attention and encouragement, thanks to years of neglect and indifference in the other arts communities I tried to be a part of. There's room for everyone to shine, because everyone has a unique and valued contribution to make and my impact is meaningful and is already happening.