Last time I talked about the kind of art I hate. This time I’m going to talk about how much I hate being an artist in a non-art environment. Specifically family functions.
As an artist I find it not only frustrating, but insulting when people, including my family, say, “Oh go do this…you’re the artist.” Yesterday I went to my sister-in-law’s baby shower and there was a baby clothes decorating table. You know, like 200 white ones-ies and a butt-ton of fabric markers. I heard the above statement more times than I could count upon my decision to go make one (it was more by force, but we won’t get into that…). This happens in other instances too, like at bridal showers where someone is supposed to make a bouquet out of the ribbons from the obnoxious amount of presents the bride to be receives. Artists everywhere are cursed and therefore forced to endure these god-awful rituals. Isn’t it bad enough that we’ve picked one of the dumbest careers in the world? And then my aunt says, “You should design baby clothes!” You think I don’t know I’m capable of doing that crap?
Better yet is when your mother (sister, aunt, brother, etc.) comes up to you and says, “I want a drawing!”
Of what?! What do you want a drawing of!??!!? How about you look at my work and pick something you like and I’ll give it to you? I can’t count the number of times my mother has asked me to paint a fucking “mural” in her bathroom. “You know, I have all those bamboo sticks in vases, do something that matches that…”
These projects are what we call “ugly babies”. My mother has been heckling me for years for a drawing of “the kids”. Last Christmas I finally gave in and drew a portrait of my five siblings. I found the dumbest, most unflattering pictures I could find of each one of us, collaged them together, and drew them. Mom was…pleased. My little cousin asked for a picture of the Jonas Brothers for her ninth birthday and as I sat there drawing it, all I could think was, “This is not what I’m going to let my life as an artist become.” Granted, the call I got of her screaming her head off about how much she loved it made it a little less awful, but still…
I don’t even need to get into the fact that I hardly draw anymore unless I’m tracing something– that’s the beauty of printmaking. And that not only do I have no interest in drawing my family members, or drawing FOR them, but does anyone have any idea what it’s like to be trivialized into some arts & crafts moron? Just because I have an interest in art does NOT mean that I want to make things out of bows and scrapbook materials. I’m all about having fun and making things that aren’t fine art, but when people assume that those things are something I want to do all the time, or better yet something I’m really good at, simply because I’m an artist, I want to light myself on fire.
My family has a very basic understanding of art, meaning that being an artist means you’re good at drawing. Concepts? Forget it. They look at my art and say, “So a horse that’s dead? Is that some comment on society?” (hold pistol to temple) “Is that red because you were angry when you made it?” (pull trigger) Referencing historical artists and movements is just plain useless, and trying to have a conversation about these things is pretty much impossible. I took my mother to MoMA one year and all she wanted to do was look at Starry Night. Of all the beautiful and influential works of art in that gold mine of a building, she picks the one painting whose popularity makes me want to vomit.
Women of Avignon, The painting that potentially BEGAN modern art? Nothing.
De Kooning? Chagall? Nauman? Braque? Picabia?! Kahlo?!? DUCHAMP!? SCHIELE!??!
Not even Cezanne! Just Starry Night.
Oh, it’s enough to kill me, but I digress.
The point is that just because I’m an artist, or even an art major, doesn’t mean that I should be expected to do all the stupid arts and crafts that you mere mortals do.
So, what have we learned from all of this?
Don’t invite me to a shower of any kind, ever. The mere thought of it makes me want to hulk out and break things into tiny pieces.