Recently, I have come to terms with two truths: 1) Art is anything I create as a means for expression, healing, and survival. 2) My most crucial art work is to rise into the fullness all I am created to be.
I have always been drawn to art and expression.Throughout college I dabbled in various forms of art. I sang in an African choir I started a praise dance group with my friend, I performed with the Black Theater Association. Art was the way I made sense of who I was becoming and who I could be. Throughout college, my art was resistance to the new environment I found myself struggling to navigate. Time and time again, art liberated me.
After graduating college, I started work a 9-5 job, and while there were brief moments of creativity, I felt stifled. Even though I lived in Los Angeles, I found so many people creating to entertain but not enough people creating to stay alive. I craved a supportive, nurturing community of creatives, so I started a group for women of color to connect, create and collaborate. As I helped other artists cultivate their work, I struggled with my creative identity. Am I an artist if I am not displaying my work on instagram or twitter? If I have no desire to share my work, is it real? As I dug deeper into my core, I realized I was doing myself a disservice by trying to squeeze myself into a box. During that time, I had to remind myself that as a black woman in America, my very existence is art. Taking up space at a protest is art. Working in corporate America and surviving (maybe even thriving) is art. There is art sprawled across the pages of my journal. There is art growing gracefully from my head. I AM ART.
So how can you create authentically? I believe this is a lifelong journey, one that starts with acknowledging who you are in this moment and letting that guide you. Here are some questions that helped me get started:
How did you use your imagination as a child? How did you express joy? Sadness?
Think of two artists that inspire you. What qualities draw you to them?
What are three adjectives do you hope people use to describe your work?
Finally, before sharing your work ask yourself: Is this true? Is this honest? Is this me?