after Ongoing by Jenny Xie
So what…the heartaches and headaches she collected like paper cuts over the years? Her early twenties—the twin beds of naiveté and wanderlust lay between book covers, on movie screens and in ballads along with all the angst of tragic heroism. Mood swings hitched-hiked in her Volkswagen Beetle over potholed backroads and the Parkway bound for revolutions on salty ferris wheels tottering on piers along the Jersey shore. Still, there was hope. Inside poems and under the canopy of trees. Work championed her thirties and forties until the prefixes of peri- and meno- attached themselves to the huge pause that followed many false starts and ambivalences. Books no longer satisfied and workmanship dulled into duty. Paint brushes and solvents hued the corners of her fifties and sixties. Self-Doubt trashed canvasses and shrink-wrapped perspective and poetry offering proposals of a loveless marriage or spinsterhood—what difference anyway? Until composition and compassion, juxtaposition and abstraction and other -itions emerged. New frames started to replace stale views of filtered servitude. With charcoal under her fingertips, she labored hard for beyond the so-whats and the for-whats, graying ever-so-lightly lightly into just this.
Lunch discussions at the studio have been lively lately amongst my group of women-artist-friends. We come together regularly and irregularly, each with her own brand of self-expression as well as an enormous overlapping of support, encouragement and enthusiasm for each other’s visions.
The opportunity has come up recently for us to enter our work (individually) into a local show that is to represent a cross section or survey of women artists in our area. It is to be displayed at a respected gallery in town. Along with the opportunity comes the angst of “Is my work good enough?” Taken one step further it morphs into “Am I good enough/Am I worthy?” Rest assured at this point, the artists involved are all dedicated, passionate and hard-working. Several have won prestigious national awards and accolades. And yet the angst, or internal emotional strife, is a rampant virus that can cripple even the best and strongest of us. Eva Hesse, a ground-breaking sculptor and pioneering artist in the 1960s questioned her work, her vision and her right to create. Her close friend wrote her in a now-famous (with spicy trenchant language not included here): “Stop (thinking) and Just Do”—Sol LeWitt. Today we admire and celebrate her courage, leadership and movement of art onto a different and higher plane.
The most difficult part of artistry/self-expression is dealing with a brutal self-critic. The rest is simply about observation, patience and practice. What is so wonderful about working in a community, classroom, workshop or with a group of artists-peers is that when you have discussions like this—the realization sets in that we are not alone with Self-Doubt and Fear of Failure. And when we see that our peers are surely worthy of brilliance and respect, we therefore begin to understand and feel that we too are worthy. Self-Doubt and Fear of Failure are merely tools for objective observation, learning, growth and elevating our craft. It may just well be that angst is as important and misunderstood a process as creation itself.
said the rose to the thorn, thank you
© ag ~ 2018
Rain and Rust
Between all the self-talk —
and yearning for a potato chip.
If only I could paint this time
between rain and rust
how would that look?
Once I was a river wild,
whiskey notes, and
summer squalls bending light.
The day you asked
I could not explain
in search of some moment.
Despite all the doubts
it was worth the while
it takes to see fireflies
In the words you whispered,
wearing my wounds,
and the distance of blue.
AG ~ May 2016
despite a thaw – more shadow
down the rabbit hole (5-7-5 haiku)
inside and out
my own blurry edges
ag ~ January 2013
a few haiku simply not accepted by editors:
harvesting stillness the last white rose of summer
field of red wind in bloom autumn grasses
rainy day tide ripples through my doubts
moss garden i close my eyes
alone on shore the moon sends a path