My experience of EAST involved a lot of fun, a little stress, and some beneficial growth for multiple parties. I had the opportunity to show at the Parish House, a house owned by my church, Church of the Cross. They kindly hosted myself and two artists from the church: Meena Matocha (below left) and Amy Bailey (below right). I was even able to bring in two of my college students that I disciple in art and faith as part of my full time job. In the down hours we sat around the house, casually working on projects and allowing our conversation to flow unhindered. I was reminded how much I love artists, they have so much to give.
As we were hanging the show and preparing to host, our focus was on loving the people who would come through the exhibition, even if only for the short time we would get to talk to them. For artists with work on display, it’s easy to get a puffed up ego through the praise, or a damaged sense of self-worth because of the vulnerability. But focusing on the love of the viewer draws the emotions to a better place. Being both honored and humbled by the viewer’s interest gives you neither lies about your greatness, or lies about your worthlessness, but truth about your self. How much better it is for us to do what God commanded and love our neighbor! I can see that, even though I missed the mark in consistently loving the viewer. People exhaust me, and I found myself becoming passive and avoiding connection, by both physical and emotional avoidance. But when I was able to start conversations with viewers, it made the experience so much more enjoyable for everyone. The way I make and understand art is something I can give to the world, and challenging the average person to engage more deeply with art is a gift to them.
My most rewarding conversation by far, was with one viewer who really liked my pieces named ISH! He saw a wide and exciting potential for stories in all my illustrations, taking them seriously, but not too seriously. Somehow before even speaking, we had an understanding and trust through just my artwork. I don’t think that’s ever happened before, but I’m sure it’s easy to imagine, that is the stuff artists dream of. He gladly babbled with me about my work, and rewarded me with insight into what he saw in it. He ended up buying three pieces before leaving, and even coming back the next day for a fourth! I hope to see him again.
This is the piece Ish returned for, titled “Will You Go to Prom with Me?”. The little teen swamp thing just wants somebody to go to prom with him, but doesn’t quite know how to ask. Relatable. It was one of my favorites in the show, but no one had seemed to really notice it. (Maybe that’s appropriate, as the swam creature surely feels overlooked.) I had almost decided to just keep the piece for a while since no one seemed to really get it, but Ish appreciated the piece, quickly changed my mind, and I was glad to let him buy it. Having someone else enjoy my art is more rewarding then enjoying it myself.