Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wrestling with Dragons

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one," by Stella Adler. It was good this quote came to me when it did because it was a gentle, much needed reminder. It's been a long time since a quilt of mine has evoked such strong feelings and criticism from people. It was so unexpected too because I was so excited about this quilt and the direction that I was going. While I have pretty much beaten (and sometimes, like now, still battle) the dragon of the Fear of Criticism, some of the remarks have been more hurtful than helpful. In the past, this might have caused me to shut down for a while, instead I'm busy creating. It feels good. I've worked hard to be at this place in my life.

In third grade, the teacher required us to share what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember how excited I was to share my dream. When it came to my turn, I joyfully announced that I actually wanted to do two things and I thought they worked well together. I wanted to be an artist and the person that got to decide the names for the colors of paint. Mrs. Sanders did not share my passion and informed me that the class already had an artist. His name was Guy and in all honestly, he was quite good. Further I had no artistic talent. She didn't even grace my desire to be the namer of paint colors. She told me that I was much more suited to be a mother or a secretary. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I went to bed early which wasn't my nature and waited patiently for everyone to go to sleep (I shared a room with my two younger sisters) and then I cried. I cried until I could not cry anymore. I kept my desire to be an artist a secret until high school. I wish I could tell you that my dream was embraced but it wasn't. It has made me realize how much admonishments and criticisms can rob us of the courage to be original and take risks with our ideas. I work hard when I teach to make sure I create a safe place full of encouragement and positive energy.

Anyway, I have added more to the quilt and have decided to "stick a fork in it and call it done." Now it's time to quilt it and move on. I remain happy with the quilt.


  1. It is very profound. I keep admiring it. Maybe I did not say this clearly enough.
    What a shame how children were influenced in former decades! How dare a teacher judge on the children's aspirations in this way? I can understand that it broke your heart.
    I was brought up to be an artist and then just couldn't get it made and spent most of my life in jobs with no creative challenge whatsoever. I'm with you.

  2. Eva, I am so happy that you are with me. hugs, karen

  3. ... you know by now that you are an artist, don't you?


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