The Free Art Philosophy
Emptiness is a plague, and our most toxic contaminant comes from social media.
We are so exposed to extraneous eyewash through computers, and they are everywhere: work, shops, schools, at home - always attached to you, near you, pressed up against your skin inside your pocket. The greatest weapon for revolution we have at our disposal has, ultimately, pinned us against a wall. The one thing that connects millions, billions of people around the world is simply making us feel inflated, individual, and important when we are anything but. We are disconnected, apathetic, and scared in a political, universal climate that calls us to action in order to bring peace.
Every millennial has a public persona on facebook, instagram, twitter, their resume on their website, you name it. If you look in these places you will find anyone but who we really are. Maybe it's easier than facing the truth. The internet has been capitalized for self-promotion, bringing with it a boom of unwarranted narcissism, lack of compassion for others, apathetic political "activism," cyber bullying, as well as some pretty dank memes... I guess there's a bright side to everything.
So what? I'm just as bad as anyone else. Look at me, I'm writing this on my pretentious little blog and I'm going to share it on social media with my friends. They'll maybe read it and they'll maybe even like it, but they'll definitely forget about it.
It's a trap, and I fall for it, too. So Andrea, you may ask, why are we here today?
I'm having a hard time retracting myself from this ethospheric hivemind. I miss the days when I was more passionate about reading a new book than reading an updated timeline. I think a recent, sticky, social-media-fueled end to a long-term, toxic relationship has a lot to do with that for me personally, but in the end, that's nobody's fault but my own, and here's what I've decided to do about it.
I will create things that are just for me. I will hang them on my wall and I will hold them safe to my heart. For some time I will be sure to study them, and I will examine what it meant for me to make them. I will remember where I was at the time emotionally. Most of the time, this will hurt me, and I will hole myself up in my apartment for days, and be really dramatic and touchy about everything.
Yeah, it's silly, but it will be so important for me to disconnect this way from the "social media me," and reconnect with the spiritual, human, ACTUAL me. Then, I will release those pieces of art into the world and spread the word of the Free Art Campaign, and I hope that I will somehow learn to let the emotional drag go along with them.
I'll pray those pieces find their way into someone else's heart so that they may find some courage to do the same.
I'm not leaving the socialmediaverse just yet, but I do hope anyone reading this finds time to make something new today. I hope you have a chance to get some fresh air before diving back into it - by breathing in the musk from pages of an old book, or by meditating in your yoga practice, or by simply taking a minute to doodle something on a post-it note in the office... Please always remember that you deserve to make time for you. Live a full life of love and self-love -- and tell absolutely no one.
It may just be the key to your success!
p.s. sorry about all the really old, less-than-dank memes but hey --
I went to the St. Louis Art Museum, and sat in an upstairs exhibit and watched people there. I decided I wanted to learn something, but instead I looked around and wrote a poem. This is what I came up with.
I love and appreciate these ancient parts of museums so much - center points for learning, collections of creations from people long gone - relics from the reliquary in a different time, another life. They symbolize what we'll all be, in the end - stories. Or, perhaps, small pieces of the collective human story. Either way, something lives beyond us and sometimes, strangers will do a slow waltz past the work you leave behind.
And sometimes, people find the pieces you leave behind in the bathroom at a coffee shop, and that's enough.
I think it's every artist's goal to be in a museum someday - to reach so many people, in real life, in real time is a dream.
For me, for now, hiding art around the city is a beautiful, exciting, and fun experience. Perhaps instead of freezing my art in time on the second level of the reliquary, I will turn people's homes into the Micro-Museums of Free Art Finds... Because every day should be filled with beautiful things, and everyone deserves to have them, even when they don't.
Find a way to be a part of that today. Share your heART!
Who We Are: Questions We Should Be Asking
What defines us?
What are we doing with our lives?
Whose fight is this?
What is the good life?
What do you know?
Are there any safe places left to live?
Are we there yet?
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These are the questions our founding fathers asked themselves 241 short years ago. If only they could see us today.
From Dred Scott to Jim Crow to Michael Brown.
From Susan B. Anthony to Betty Friedan to Malala Yousafzai.
From Harvey Milk to Ellen Degeneres to Chelsea Manning.
Did they know, then, that these words would echo in eternity? That people would spend and lose their lives defending them? Did they know they penned a war cry that would both build people up and destroy them just the same all over the world?
I think they did. Goodness knows the truth always prevails in the end. We are stronger than we know.
The fight is ours. We are not there yet, but we are on our way.
So, what defines you?
pass it on, pay it forward.
Art therapy has always been an intense passion of mine, but I never really understood that I was doing it until recently. It is a form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modeling, used as a remedial activity or an aid to diagnosis.
So, I have no official diagnosis, mostly out of fear of going to the doctors and therapists, but I have experienced trauma in my life that has led to what I think is chronic depression, dissociative identity, and PTSD... but, ya know, biology may also play a part in that. I'm no doctor, I'm no therapist. What I do know is that the only way I can live with myself, the only way I can literally get out of bed and get to work, is by making art.
"Draw a picture about how you're feeling," the therapist used to tell us when we were stuck in that dark room with the big windows and the leather couch and all the books. Back then, I was annoyed because that idea felt so silly and childish, because I wasn't a very silly or childish kid. I don't think I really could talk to her about anything - until I was 24, it felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about anything.
I do remember she told us to just keep a journal or a sketchbook for when you're feeling sad, lost, or confused. Both are practices I hold to this day, almost 17 years later. I always carry both on me, everywhere I go. Not so silly, I guess.
The truth is, art is not childish, it's childLIKE. It's about embracing that sense of play and uninhibited passion that flows out of you when you just... let go and create. It doesn't have to be pretty, trust me. By God, if you could look at my sketchbook, you'd see a lot of not-very-cute drawings that are for nobody to see but me. They illustrate the pieces of me that hurt the most - out pours some of the darkest corners of my heart. And trust me when I say they don't look very skillful or aesthetically pleasing, either. I would honestly be embarrassed to share them with the world.
It's worth it to get the ideas out somewhere, even if it's just for me. Sometimes it's worth it to see the way my creations impact others. It's worth it to teach classes and watch people be surprised at themselves for what they've made. If I bring someone a smile and a new thought, I think that is enough for me.
Many people believe medication is the way to go, like it's some magical cure-all for peace of mind and normalcy. I'm afraid that if I go that path, I'll stop feeling, and I'll stop making all the things I make. Is stopping myself from having the occasional manic episode worth losing all of this? Something tells me... no.
There is power in positive thinking, and I can create whatever kind of life I want to - it's all in my head. Just like it's all in yours!
I think there are lots of important things to focus on in life that bring positivity, but sometimes I forget them, so I will write them down here. ART! Family. Friends. Collaboration. Dedication. Nature. Sunshine. Hot tea and coffee. Laughter. Perseverance. Being grateful for everything you've been blessed with. Making an impact in whatever small ways you can. Sharing your truth, even when it's hard. Giving back to the communities and people that have nurtured you. Most importantly, inner peace, and sharing that inner peace with everyone you meet.
Because when you heal yourself, you help heal a tiny part of the world. When you love yourself, you help spread a little more love into the world. And believe me, in this day and age, the world needs it.
What is this blog about? I'm not sure. Maybe I hope to encourage you to make something. It doesn't matter what it is. Write a poem, doodle a silly monster, paint flowers, dance a little ditty. Give a little extra love to yourself, and to your family. Make someone laugh. Plant a tree. What's your art today? Listen, it doesn't matter if it's "good" or not. It just has to be yours. And when you share yours, someone else will feel brave enough to share theirs. Please don't be afraid.