After completing 365 images for the Previving Series, a project that documented my year of enduring life saving surgeries, I stopped to reflect. It took 3 years to represent the year and I was proud of the accomplishment. But what then? What now? The pile sits high, 365 stacked 18 x 24 unstretched canvas sheets, among the other piles of old work, against the wall of my already crowded studio. The proposed installation space is stalled by my own inability to figure out how to find it. I am inundated with emails that state, “Caren, we have seen your work on (specific site) and we invite you to exhibit or submit to this exhibition or art fair.” At first, excited with optimism only to learn to scroll down to see the financial burden if chosen. Today, I received this one,
DEAR FRIEND ARTIST,
WE ARE WAITING FOR YOU THIS BIG EXPOSITION INTERNATIONAL.
Scroll to bottom, open attachment, read...190,00 euro plus shipping and handling. So, you are judged by merit maybe and then you have to pay. Some galleries ask for money upfront, suggesting a corporate sponsorship even to exhibit in Chelsea. It is overwhelming, so I turn around and go back into my studio. Yet, I yearn for the connection, the stimulation, the intellectual discourse and conversation, whether about my own process or the state of the art world in the age of social media. And I tweet, and I post now on facebook, instagram, on my blog. I feel like I am in one of those dreams where I shout out and no one can hear me, (my old issues in therapy by the way). Where is the human contact that attracted me to art in the first place? I sink into my studio where I fill whatever empty spaces I can with feelings and struggles, with life choices and with life experiences, as I connect mind and body through art. I curate a biennial exhibition using cancer as a metaphor for life’s fragility and I submit to shows that interest me. Sometimes, I am accepted. When I an rejected it is hard not to feel the pangs of disappointment. I have been working for 25 years, I try to stay focused, try not to get discouraged, always reaching for a wider audience. Mostly, I continue to communicate through images and words, so that I move someone in a meaningful way. I suppose that is the reason I became an artist in the first place.