Several years ago, at the mixer stage of a charity gathering, I spoke with another woman there. I am going to call her ‘Jennifer.’
“What kind of work do you do?” I asked.
“I do some quilting and fabric crafts,” Jennifer responded.
“Oh, you’re an artist. Wow!”
“No, I just do quilting and applique.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s being an artist.”
“Well… no… I just create them for family and friends.” Jennifer demurred.
“Creating art is what artists do,” I said.
‘Jennifer’ was clearly uncomfortable and turned to another woman to move the conversation away from my persistence. Today I’d likely be even more obnoxious and insist she state out loud, “I am an artist.”
Obnoxious, maybe, but it bothers me to hear women (and some men, yes) belittle themselves and their art because it’s “crafts,” or “artisan.” Balderdash!
I hope Ann Brauer calls herself an artist. Her quilts are magnificent. And the anonymous women who created these quilts a hundred years ago were artists, too. From the earliest art — yes, the cave paintings were done by women — to YouTube Design channels for “crafts,” these are artists, even though most never called themselves that. You are an artist when you create art. Period.
The Hero’s Journey for ‘Jennifer’ may have started that day I called her an artist. There’s a paradox to the artist label: ‘Jennifer’ could not see herself as I did — that she is an artist. However, she was also seeing herself through a limiting, patriarchal, art establishment view that if she creates with materials outside of oil paints/marble she is not an artist; she is an artisan or crafter.
Part of your Hero’s Journey stages is the transformation. Of course, the big transformation comes as part of enduring the Ordeal stage, but the Hero must first start to change her idea of herself. Changing her labels is a powerful way to begin transforming. (Remember when Luke said, “I want to learn the ways of the Force, and become a Jedi like my father.”???)
Compare your Hero’s Journey goal to how you see yourself now. What are your current labels? How are those labels limiting your Journey? What new labels can you start using to move you forward?
Say it out loud, Jennifer: “I am an artist.”
I am a poet. I am a philanthropist. I am an entrepreneur. I am a business owner. I am a college graduate.
I create beauty. I am artist. I am a Hero.