This week I did my first art installation at a local Coffee shop. I’ve been going to this place since I was 15 years old. That’s a lot of years and a lot of coffee we’ve shared together. So, for this to be the first place I come out so to speak is fitting. There’s a lot of anxiety with this but it’s not the kind that brings me to my knees. It’s an exciting sort of nervous, happy butterflies. For the last 7 months, I have been preparing and thinking, obsessing and dreaming, thinking of all the worst-case scenarios crossing my fingers for the best. Putting your work out there for people to see is always rough but to have it in front of live people makes me feel so vulnerable. I feel like posting it on a website or Instagram there is a certain amount of protection there. I look at those paintings on the wall right now and it feels like I am standing naked in front of you. Each of one of those paint strokes was born from these hands and came from a part of me that I can’t use words to explain. And in that, there is a rawness that I am giving to you.
There was a moment Thursday morning after everything was hung that I became scared. I wanted to pull everything down, say never mind, and hide all of my work away. It wasn’t that I was scared that people wouldn’t like it. There will be people who won’t and that’s all right. I get that my work is very feminine and maybe a more a specific taste. I just didn’t know if I was sure I wanted to show the world those parts of me. There is a certain amount of loneliness in my work, a sadness that I don’t mean to put in there but because those two things have been a part of me for so long they come out when I draw. And it was that sadness, that loneliness that I was scared to give to you. Here’s the thing. Those two things are mine and the source of so much of my strength that I was scared it was going to be taken away from me. My husband looked at me, saw the panic in my eyes, and asked me if I was all right. I was. I always am. At that moment though I had to roll with my anxiety, feel that fear, and realize that doing this was a new source of strength. It was about time I owned that part of me, too.
I have had many dreams about my Dad over the last few nights. I miss him so much but I always miss him. I sit here right now and I look at those pictures hanging on the wall and I think of him. I think of all the conversations we ever had, the good ones and the bad ones, the silly political debates and the dinner time conversations about bowel movements and I smile at all of them. I am not a super-spiritual person but I do believe that spirits exist. I don’t think my Dad is hanging around. I know he has found his peace but what I also know that he visits sometimes, too. And even it is just my mind dealing with his death by creating this fantasy, I’m OK with it. Last night he bought me ice cream and we sat together in a busy place and we laughed and we smiled. I don’t know what we talked about but I remember sitting with him, what I felt and knowing this was his way of letting me know how proud of me he is. He knew that someday I would find what he always saw and it was this strength to try.
I know this is just a coffee shop. I know this may not be the thing that rockets me to success. I have a healthy understanding that I may walk out with every one of those pieces 3 months from now… but for now, I am eating ice cream with my Dad and enjoying this moment.