Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Every Child II c. 2003 by Lea Keohane

"Every Child II" by Lea Keohane. 4' x 4' oil and graphite on masonite. 2003.

Okay. So a major problem that I have--and I seriously need and want to change--is talking about my work. I get so anxious when people start asking about it--my usual independant, confident self becomes completely unravelled. My painfully shy 8th-grader self rears her hoping-to-turn-me-invisible head. It took years for me to overcome her, yet she is still in there, ready and waiting to thwart me when I most need her to finally rest in peace.

Case-in-point: In January of this year I had my first gallery show. It was an internationally juried competition to get in, and one of my pieces made it--"Every Child II." I was, of course, thrilled, but I didn't anticipate the social pressure whatsoever. My friend John came with me to the gallery, along with a friend of his. First, I bumbled my meeting with the gallery owner, not making it clear to her that I was one of the artists in the show, because I didn't want to seem aloof. So she just gave me this wierd look like, "Who are you and why are you introducing yourself?" Really lame.

So as the evening wore on, the gallery became more and more crowded. It was a pretty small space, and there were works from about 50 artists in there. I'd already looked at everyone else's work, tried to talk with the other artists there (there were only 2), and was at this point standing near my painting, alone, as John and his friend had gone to some other galleries. More and more people came through and I felt more and more awkward. My head was tied to a balloon, my chest was caving in, my clothes didn't fit right, people's voices and eyes were attacking my brain. I couldn't make eye-contact with anyone. I felt as if I'd been standing there for an age of hell, so I disappeared out the door with the crowd.

I side-stepped the door of the gallery and took a deep breath, yanked my cell phone out of my pocket, and before I called John to find out where he'd gone, I looked at the time. From the moment I'd walked into the door of the gallery to my moment of escape had been only ONE HOUR. I am not kidding. I had completely freaked. I hadn't made a connection with anybody, I'd answered one person's question, and very badly, I'd had a huge anxiety attack, and left. So I did what any rational, embarrassed, and anxiety-ridden person would do--I found my friends and kicked back a loooot of cocktails. Yikes.

So, the point of this is, I want to focus some of my future blog-time on specific paintings, or series of painting, and try to work some of this fear out of my system. Yes, I know that blogging gives me the safety of my own living room, no personal contact, no hard questions from strangers (feel free to interpret that as a dare, if you'd like), and the luxury of revision and editing before publishing. But I think if I can get my ideas down on paper--so to speak--then it is at the very least a baby step to talking about them to other people. Right?

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