I'm Cate and I'm here to talk about my education plan and be introspective and stuff - 1234!
(Been on a Scott Pilgrim kick. Sorry, not sorry.)
Last week, I wanted to talk about my education plan, but my brain and heart were elsewhere. So I wrote about that stuff instead. Now that it's off my chest, I get to share what I've been mulling over the last couple weeks!
What is it that I want from my education?
I know, I had the ten year plan. I went on several job shadows and slowly narrowed down my career goal, and then meticulously searched for colleges that would give me the education I wanted. MU was my ace in the hole, and then - as plans are wont to do - things went screwy. I scrambled and shifted and now I'm at WOU. But what is it that I am asking WOU to teach me?
In the art world, it's really enticing to dream of being a paid artist. Imagine being able to take something that is fun, and expressive, and self-directed, and use that to then pay your bills and make new friends and build a community and learn new techniques for making more things that are fun, and expressive, and self-directed. It's such a tasty dream! Being an artist is an important part of my future career goal, but until recently, I'd kind of forgotten about the other part.
I really want to become a board-certified Art Therapist who works closely with families of children who have been diagnosed with ASD, and be able to facilitate a source of communication and connection through the art-making process for families and community members. It's a lofty goal, but it's not impossible. There are people doing something like my dream job right now, and excelling at it. I got to job shadow one such person, and that one brief window of time with her was enough motivation to carry me through 7 years. I hadn't realized that motivation had sort of faded until about two weeks ago, when I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend about the art you see in galleries and how it compares to my artwork. I emphatically said that my artwork belongs in bathrooms, and we both were kind of taken aback. But it was a clarifying moment for me, and I've really wanted to delve into that clarity in a blog post, so here I am! Listen to me ramble for five minutes. :)
In the last few years, I've been immersed into an art community moreso than at any other point of my life. With a huge focus on developing art techniques, my psychology courses took a backseat. As an artist, a significant measure of success is simply how seen you are - Instagram followers, gallery representation, pop-up shows, and the like. Anything that consistently puts your work in front of people is important and good. I absolutely got sucked into that mindset of needing to create work that interested more people, and then try to get that work visible. I'm not trying to shit on this - it's still something that matters to me! However, I got so sucked into this mindset that I forgot why I was creating my art in the first place, and where I wanted to end up.
Namely, I forgot the therapy part of "art therapy" as my endgame. Lol, oops! So, smash cut to a few weeks ago. I'm talking about gallery installation with a friend. We're discussing the tendency of university courses to push you toward traditional gallery representation as the end-all, be-all of art-making. I'm getting more and more fired up over what I perceive as an injustice in the learning process: if my piece is not objectively viewed as gallery-ready, then it's not seen as a good piece of art. And suddenly, I feel something snap into focus: I'm not interested in only making "good art" that sells for thousands of dollars. I'm interested in making healing art that is good for the person creating it, not necessarily for the person viewing it.
In the span of a second, I realized that I have sort of trapped myself into only creating art I think will be found interesting by an outside party. I realized I have been trying to force myself into creating conceptually driven pieces instead of aesthetically driven pieces. I realized I have been unintentionally (or rather, unmindfully) attempting to create art I could see hanging in a gallery. Here's where that emphatic sentence helped: I really do think the art I enjoy creating belongs in bathrooms! I do not think it makes my art less valuable - I just think it makes it accessible in a way that traditional gallery art doesn't seem to be. I would still love to sell enough work to pay my bills and meet new people and pay for the pleasure of learning new techniques. But that's not my only goal in life!
Cue the last two weeks of introspection. What is it that I want from WOU? I want to hone my art techniques, not just to diversify my portfolio, but also to diversify the options I have to nonverbally communicate with future clients. And beyond my art classes, I want to hone my knowledge and skills in psychology, to become a skilled and qualified mental health provider. I'm not just aiming to hang my art in a gallery and walk away. I'm aiming to hang my art in homes and libraries and alleyways, and have weird conversations afterward. And I'm largely aiming to be a bridge-builder in the realm of interpersonal communication. I eventually want to operate a combination counseling studio and community art space. It's something I feel called to provide, not only for the people I haven't met yet, but also for myself. I'm actively creating my place in this world. And it's absolutely okay that I'm doing it with weird turkey paintings and dick statuettes. :)
And not that I ascribe to the joke, but here's a tangentially related meme that's been making me laugh.
Thanks for reading!