>A Sense of Self through Art

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>Jeff Koons: Potential

I am hoping to fulfill my true potential by going back to school and taking art history classes this fall. I have been waiting for this day, like waiting for the Monsoon in the desert. I am a forty four year old woman who has lived in the world, stayed at home to raise a family, is managing her own business but still doubts her own place in this universe.

It feels like I have been on a path of trying to find a sense of self thorough art all my life. It all started when my 5th grade art teacher suggested that I enter one of my oil pastel works into a competition. He praised my work over everyone else’s and made the suggestion; being a painfully shy child, I demurred, needing more encouragement… he got distracted by something else… and later on my picture was lost… I had found and lost my only chance of a conspicuous existence within the crowd all within the same heartbeat.

I was very proud of that picture and how I had worked out the problem of presenting the human figure, something I didn’t feel competent about. I had the crowd with their backs to the viewer. I don’t remember now, if I felt particularly special due to my great talent but I do remember feeling smart. Some subtle awakening must’ve taken place at the time; my recollections of that summer are of getting up early to paint the sunrise out of my little bedroom window. Unfortunately none of these early masterpieces survived since we moved to the States one year later.

My memories are hazy about my other artistic endeavors until I got to high school and started to take art classes as electives. One incident that sticks out in my mind is of my sculptor instructor chastising me for not being loose enough ..I can still hear his baffled inquiry “Have you never played in the mud as a child?” I hadn’t … but that was besides the point… I was trying to maintain a strict control over the clay… obviously without much success. That must’ve been why I never liked working with water colors either, the frustration I felt due to the lack of control was beyond bearing… I could never relax and just do it due to a constant obsession of trying to get it right.

My aspirations never ran towards studying fine arts (not enough confidence in my own ability) but I wanted to do something creative. I am not sure if my love of art history came into being because of my obvious lack of artistic genius, (I always reasoned, if indeed I was a genius, I would’ve been discovered already) or if it was just an accessible way of being a part of the art world, the only place I had ever felt I had a modicum of a sense of belonging. Whatever the reasons, it feels like I have been looking for my true calling in art classes and museums, for the better part of the last thirty years. How I envy those lucky individuals who know what they want to do and how they want to do it from an early age.

Now, watching this video of Jeff Koons and listening to his remarks about “what people want to do the most in life, is what they avoid the most… and his pronouncement that somehow our true potential can be triggered by the contemplation of a work of art,” makes me stop and ponder… hmmm… he may have something there….

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