14 May 2014

You know how "artists" are...

Many of you who read my other blog know that in March I submitted some art to the local hospital for review.  We'd received an employee call to donate art to a program that recognizes the importance of art in the healing environment. 

The deadline for submitting was April 1st, and the chosen would be notified by April 15th.

I had a couple of questions, so I spent a day or two emailing the contact back and forth to make certain that I really wanted to participate, and once I had made that decision, was told to be sure to make an appointment when I was dropping the art off so that someone would be in the office to take it.

About half way through creating the art for this I received an email asking me to consider  participating in another book.  At the time, it really took a great deal of consideration... I mean, local exposure vs. international exposure again... but, I didn't feel as though I had enough time to create good pieces for both projects.  In the end, the prospect of contributing to the town where I live and the campus where I work won out. 

I finished three paintings, emailed to make the appointment to drop them off, dragged my friend Kellye into going with me for moral support, and dutifully arrived on time to drop off the paintings.  That wasn't easy since no one in the hospital seemed to have any idea what we were talking about when trying to find the drop off point, and even after we had found out where that was, finding the tiny office was another challenge.

Still, we did finally find it and announced our presence to drop off the art.  

The person with whom I'd been emailing was not there, and a couple of folks in the office had no idea what I was talking about, but we were eventually directed to the program director.  She looked totally befuddled when I handed her the art with the paperwork.

After explaining that I had made an appointment to drop this off, that it was for the employee call for art, and that I wanted to be certain to get it in before the deadline, she still looked somewhat confused but did take it. 

Kellye asked her when I would hear something, and her reply was to the effect..."We haven't had many entries yet, we will probably have to extend the deadline... you know how artists are."

Thankfully, it was a day where the majority of my filters were intact, and I resisted the desire to ask, "No, exactly how are we artists?"

Seriously... the person in charge of this program taking a stereotypical view of what an artist is?  I mean... they did ask us to contribute this art, and if chosen donate it for free to this program... and here I was, standing in her office, with her confusion about why I was there, BEFORE the deadline... and she says "you know how artists are"???

Even more happy that I had brought Kellye along... she scooted me on out of there and back to work before I said something I probably shouldn't have.

Time moves forward (at an unbelievably fast pace)... and it's just past the middle of April.  Folks in my building who had seen what I was contributing started asking if I had heard anything.  I hadn't, so I decided to email.  Apparently the deadline had been extended to April 22nd, and they would be in touch with me one way or the other very soon after that.

Fast forward again... first part of May (the 7th to be exact).  People asking about it again.  I hadn't heard a thing so again, I write an email and send it off... the reply (in part)...

"We extended the deadline until April 22nd so I am just now getting around to cataloging all of the submissions.  The jury should be meeting to make their selections in about a week and a half."

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't things have been cataloged AS they were being dropped off?  Am I taking this too personally?  Would it have been that difficult, since they had so few entries, to catalog as they arrived and then email those who had dropped items off just to let us know what was going on adding a rough outline of time?

Sooooo freaking frustrating... so to vent, a letter I will never send... but do think is very important for those involved...
Dear *****,

I appreciate your reply to my question regarding my art.  You know, after setting up an appointment to drop it off to you on February 27th (to make sure someone would be in the office as you suggested), I was there on time.  You were not there at all.  Those who were in the office seemed confused as to why I would be showing up in there, art in hand.  However, after much explaining, I was shown to your Director's office, where, as I handed her my art, she looked a bit more than confused.  

She told me then that the deadline may have to be extended, because "you know how artists are".  The implication was that we are a bunch who can't meet deadlines because we are so flighty and without direction... you know, that stereotype of we creative folks... unlike you "professional" folks who are so deadline and outcome driven.  

Wow, the Director of a program that is supposed to support the belief that art is an important part of a healing environment making a comment that is really supportive of a vision that so very stereotypical.  I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. 

Considering I was dropping my art off at an appointed time, ahead of the scheduled deadline, thinking it would be to someone I had made that appointment with, who wasn't even there... let's just say it was a struggle for me not to ask, "No, how are WE?"

Here we are, more than a month later, and again you are telling me that it will be a bit before I know anything. Impressive professionalism.  I'm so glad you aren't like artists.

While I don't know whether or not you are the creative sort maybe you should take just a moment to see it from the artist point of view.  When I create something my soul goes into it.  I think that is pretty universal for those who create.  If I hand that creation to others to be judged far more than the quality of the art is being judged, that bit of my soul is being judged as well.  At least that is how it is from my point of view, and I'd bet a great many of us feel that way.

While I have come to realize that I cannot view rejection as ME being unworthy, it is still a difficult, somewhat soul baring, process.  I'm betting that most of us who create feel that way to some degree.  Being put off, especially after the comment "you know how artists are" is simply not acceptable. The artistic creations, and the artists, whether formally trained and working from the heart, or working from their heart with no formal training, deserve to be respected.  We may have "day jobs", but creating is really our life work.  

Remember, you have asked us to do this for free, we are not being compensated for our time or materials or abilities, so the least we deserve is respect, regardless of how talented you do or do not believe us to be.

Perhaps a better method for all of this would have been to catalog the works as they came in... it's simple enough to create a spread sheet with the artist name and email contact... very easy from there to create a mass email letting everyone know what is going on and an approximate timeline.  I'd have a lot more faith that way that you at least knew where my work was.  Right now, considering the confused look on the Director's face when I dropped it off (and the condition of her office), I don't know that.

Had I known exactly how unprofessional this process was going to be, I would have made the choice to submit for another book rather than share my work locally.  While I wouldn't have been paid for that either, at least I would have been given international exposure... but you know how we artists are, we just can't keep focused... doing two projects at once I might not have given my best to either, and for me, that's not acceptable.

I also might add, to those of you who work in your office... if you truly believe in the concept of art adding a positive note to the healing environment... and respect people who create it, don't make comments that seem to indicate that what you really think of an artist is stereotypical... that's sort of like Donald Sterling telling the world he is not a racist, and we deserve more than that.  The theory that art as a healing effect deserves more respect than that.  I'd go so far as to say that you should be passionate about that belief, and act in accordance without preconceived stereotypes... because belief without passion really isn't belief at all.

At this point, I am not certain that I will allow my art to be displayed even if it is accepted...  I may just tell you to kiss my ass and take it home with me.  But I am going to think about that, because I've been known to cut my nose off a time or two... rhetorically.  And I have never regretted doing that when needed. But I do know with some certainty that I will not participate in this event the next time a call for art goes out.


I know that this may seem a bit over reactive, but I have a deep and abiding belief that any time one perpetrates any stereotype they are creating a disservice to all of humanity.  Yes, creatives are "different" than those who are very "straight line" sorts... yes, every ethnic group may have differences from every other ethnic group... yes, religions and belief systems differ... even folks from the country and those who are from the city may see things differently... but when we make blanket statements based on those stereotypes what that really says is that we have a closed mind and believe that we are "right"... rather than look at the individual and decide for ourselves... and, in the end, I think that is what I am most sad about in this instance... but, then again... you know how artists are...


jinxxxygirl said...

Well let me just say how WONDERFUL it must have been to be asked to participate in another book!!!! Wow!

That must have been so difficult to hand over your paintings to someone who didn't know what was going on. I don't know if i could have done it. I think i may have made another appointment and tried again...

I think you should mail the letter..... with perhaps a few modifications...... like the quip about the state of her office. It may be true but a little off topic. LOL! :) It may open their eyes.... Hugs! deb

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Well, IMHO, sending the letter will open NO ONE's eyes because people such as those you dealt with are close minded. If they weren't, those that you DID talk to would have been more friendly and helpful.

That said, I'm glad that you put your thoughts in order and into writing. I don't know how you are, but when I have a "situation" that I want to address but know that it would not remedy the situation I write a letter to myself. Say what I need to say then let it go. Otherwise I keep turning it over and over getting even more upset. I might add that the few times I have actually given the letter to the perpetrator have resulted in disastrous effects.

I hope this display comes off and you get the recognition you deserve.


ACreativeDream June Crawford said...

Deb, I disagree with you in regard to the state of her office... the "you know how artists are" implied we are a bunch who are unorganized at best... had you seen her office with boxes and art piled on top of itself and over and under everything... well, one should not throw stones when one lives in a glass house... you know?

Carol... I won't be sending the letter, it's not going to make one bit of difference in the scheme of things. I have an entire journal of letters I've written never meaning to send (song in there somewhere...lol) But, sometimes things do need to be said, whether to the audience who really needs to see it, or just to the Universe so it can be out of my being.

I will, however, always be saddened when someone uses a stereotype to judge another. I think when we do that we miss out on amazing and wonderful opportunities the Universe gives us to grow.

Sandra Martin said...

June, you eloquently explained things that are on many artists' hearts (and I hope I'm not just making a "blanket statement" there...lol). Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I'm sharing on Google and Facebook...people need to hear this!
P.S. I hope your art is accepted and shown. I think it has the potential to be healing and serene for patients and visitors. I think it will do good despite what some ninnies said in the office. Much love.