For the past eight weeks, I have been taking a lampwork class where I have been learning how to make glass beads using a torch, glass rods, and several kinds of decorating techniques and tools. For a grade in the class, we were asked to write an artist statement about how we feel about art and how we see art working in our lives. This is the statement I turned in this week.
My relationship with art is a story nearly thirty-two years in the making. It sounds dramatic, or overly poetic, or maybe a mix of both, but it’s true: My parents used to joke that I was born five weeks early with a pencil in my hand, ready to start writing, angry that I wasn’t already writing.
I decided I wanted to be a writer at five years old. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew I wanted to do it. I wrote stories about princesses and anthropomorphized Beanie Babies; I asked for paper and pencils for Christmas. When I was eight, I hand-wrote a story into a little red binder I carried everywhere. At sixteen, I wrote my first novel. At nineteen, I started my second. At twenty-four, I successfully defended my thesis (a novel) to achieve a graduate degree in creative writing.
And now, I write for a living. If you had told that five-year-old girl she would be writing “internet content” for a paycheck, she wouldn’t have understood. All she knew was she wanted to write. And I’m proud to be able to tell her that I do.
My relationship with art is changing as I get older. Writing isn’t the only way I practice the act of creation anymore. I’m learning how to knit, getting better at crochet, making silly little magnets and jewelry out of perler beads. I have a blog and a Twitch channel and a battery-powered hot glue gun with plenty of juice. All of these things are integral to my creativity, and to the identity I’m actively trying to cultivate at this point in my life.
I feel somehow purposeful in my art for the first time in a while. And the purpose is: Be. Create. Breathe. Take up space.
This year, perhaps more than previous years, I have been given the opportunity to drill down into my creativity and learn new things about myself. After my divorce, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to be perceived in the world and what kind of imprint I want to leave. I think being the kind of person who makes their own blankets, crochets and wears their own scarves, makes their own jewelry… These activities are more than hobbies for me. Now, they are part of my identity.
Beyond everything else, I know this: Art, the simple act of creating, is deeply ingrained in my mental health. When I’m not creating, I suffer. I will go through entire periods of depression and burnout before remembering I need to make something. Anything!
As you may imagine, the past couple of years have given me more cause to make things. And I’m happy to follow this path for however long it takes!