How do artists grow in their work? They take risks. They leave behind what is easy and embrace the unknown. This is the theme of my artist support group for the month of July, taking risks with your art. Letting go of immediate gratification and stepping into the “what do I have to lose?” abyss.

For me, this meant pushing beyond my immediate circle of supporters and applying for new gallery representation, enter my work into juried exhibits, apply for writing and speaking grants, and contacting an array of art consultants who are unfamiliar with my work. I’m learning to accept the rejections I received, no, embracing them-I’m not taking risks if I’m accepted into everything I attempt, right? I’m also encouraged by the number of acceptances I’ve received including acceptance into two jutted shows, a Cultural Council Grant, and a slot to speak at the upcoming North American Papermakers Conference. Acceptances and rejections aside, taking risks is hard to do. But staying in the same place at the expense of where we might be headed, of what great things we may be capable, of is not an option. Life is too short to let opportunities slip through our hands.

So, off I go to work in my studio on ideas that push those boundaries, to make artwork that may look awful when it is finished-I’ve got a few of those in progress right now-, to apply to exhibits that I am rejected from. As I continue on this journey, the rejection muscle gets stronger, the fear of failure silences, the need to be embraced lessens. Don’t settle for where you are-the world is ready for us to step up our game. Who’s with me?

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