"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still." -- Dorothy Lange
When the catalog for Chicago Artist Month (CAM) arrived, my daughter was flipping through it when she stopped at this image of me.
"Mom, this doesn't look like you. I mean it is you, but it's not."
She went on to explain that I don't look like a mom, but an artist. I laughed. I'm both, right? I didn't get it. I'm a little thick. She saw an underlying confidence that I couldn't. A confidence that has held me afloat during years of struggle to hold onto my art practice through the thick and thin of life.
I felt awkward having the picture taken. I'm not one to jump in front of the lens, especially when I have cold sores the size of an elephant. The day was warm, the beginning of a heat wave. My mind was on getting to the trade show where I had a booth. I couldn't relax to enjoy the moment. The photographer Maria Ponce was great. She kept ordering me to move this way and that. I finally sank into the role as her model, letting her get on with the job she was paid to do.
Me. A model. Good grief.
Being chosen as one of the featured artists is an honor. I've worked hard to reach this point. But so have many other local artists. What makes me so special?! Nothing. But as my daughter keeps reminding me, I should be thankful. And I am.
I am very thankful. Hopefully the attention will allow The Red Thread Project® to grow. I am excited by the number of venues hosting Red Thread Stitching Studios. I have a great site for the installation and I learned last week that the performance will be at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of "What's your art?" on December 3rd. Meida McNeal confirmed today that she will choreograph the performance. I organized all of this on my own, without funding and not one intern, just the occassional help of a few friends. (Thanks!) I've worked 12-14 hour days for several months. I can't believe it is all real. The official launch is in just two days.
Learning to accept everything with grace has been my biggest challenge. I still feel self conscious, but I keep in mind a recent conversation with Mr. Pringle, director of the Harlem Theater Company. He asked me if I was good at what I do. I think so. " Don't you know?," he asked. Okay, he had me. Yes, I am good at what I do. "That's better." Is this the part when I take a bow? "Why not!"
I was kidding, but he wasn't. I understood his point. He wanted me to see in myself what my daughter was seeing in the photo. I'm here. I've survived a ton of crap. Accept the kudos as part of the package. I wouldn't have made it this far in life and art without some sense of confidence and endurance.
If Mom were still alive, she'd give me a hug and then serenade me with an ear piercing rendition of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman!" She played the song until the record srcatched.
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Suddenly, I feel 13 years old with an urge to roll my eyes.