Searching For My Niche in the Art World

Last week I finished 2 years at El Camino College and now have an Associate’s degree in Studio Art.  So this week has been all about finding my place in the art world.     The question is – now what?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I volunteered for the Redondo Beach Art Group and this past week I volunteered at Torrance Art Museum.  The opening for the current exhibition – Baker’s Dozen V: Marginal Revolutions – was last night.  It was a very liberal exhibition in a pretty conservative area.

In one piece, the artist mixed and matched photos from Abu Ghraib with other artistic elements and turned them into beautiful digital art pieces.  You could still detect a whiff of the suffering of the detainees, though – which was both disturbing and very well done.  Another piece compiled digital photos depicting the effects of globalization.  As part of that display, the artist put together a book of survey results where responders briefly stated what globalization meant for them – good or bad.  Another piece, one of my favorites, was a 7-man seesaw with Margarita mix dispensed from the center.  My absolute favorite was a painting depicting two world maps – one “left-wing” and the other “right-wing”.  The “Right” map had the USA in the center, which was hilarious.  All over the continents and states were written words from the right-wing perspective. For instance, on California were written things like “liberals” and “Hollywood Jews”.  Other states fared much worse.  The “Left” world had references to global warming , “too many guns”, and Yoga written over certain states.  The piece was very inflammatory, funny, and outstanding.

But it was clear that not everyone agreed.  As a counter-balance to all this lovely lefty artsy stuff was the exhibit I helped set up.  The artist had this wonderful idea to create an interactive space where people could show up and discuss different aspects of the Constitution.  She gave out free copies of the Constitution and buttons with the words “Patriot” on them.  To kick it off, a chorale came in and sang some good old American hymns like the Star Spangled Banner and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, among other things.  They did a great job.  Some people were into it; others were not.

Which brings me to my dilemma:  where do I fit in, in this crazy art world?  I am a strong lefty but not a radical.  I am politically progressive but I live in a fairly conservative neighborhood.  I prefer provocative, inflammatory, thought-provoking art, but conservatives tend to like safe, beautiful representational art (which I can do, but it doesn’t thrill me).

There is also the issue of race.  The South Bay is largely white and conservative.  To make my point, I must share a funny story from the opening.  At one point I wanted to read the little writing on the Left World vs. Right World paintings but 2 older ladies (not friends, just 2 different attendees) were standing in front of the Right World section reading it.  I waited and waited for one or both of them to finish so I could get a look at it.  Finally I could wait no longer. I strongly suspected that if I walked up to the painting, they would feel “uncomfortable” and leave.  Sure enough, the minute I walked up, both of them and several other people left.  Suddenly I was alone, in front of the painting, able to read it in peace.  Although I found it amusing, it is also sad that people are so pathetic and predictable, but racism is like that.  It makes people act in silly ways that are, frankly, beneath them.

Anyway, bigoted people aside, the real question is where do I WANT to fit in?  I will probably always be a bleeding-heart liberal.    I might not always ride a motorcycle but I will probably always be optimistic, inappropriate, and longing for the next adventure.  I have never had a conventional life and I don’t want one.

So where does that leave me?  The jury is still out since it has only been a week.  But my guess is that my market is in the city of Los Angeles, not its outskirts.  The only problem is that that is where the stiffest competition lies.  But, bring it on, baby!  I have never run from a challenge so why start now?  The process of finding my niche is proving to be almost as interesting as doing the work itself!

May we all find “our people” and the place where we can best plant ourselves and bloom.  Have a wonderful week and, as always…

Follow your bliss…

16"X14" charcoal and graphite on paper

16″X14″ charcoal and graphite on paper

2 thoughts on “Searching For My Niche in the Art World

  1. It’s a strange thing we humans do trying to fit ourselves into little boxes so that we can make a sort of home there. Among a lot of artists there seems to be a tug of war going on between wanting to fit in somewhere while working hard at staying original and individual. As artists we love that feeling of being different and standing out in a crowd, of grabbing people’s attention with something totally new, different or even disturbing. I believe we are here to wake people up as well as entertain them and it doesn’t matter what medium we choose whether it be the visual arts, music,writing or acting.
    I have a little piece of paper taped to my art table that says, “Art is Prayer”, and I think that is what we are doing when we create. A prayer is meant to make changes happen. Even if that change only happens in the heart and or mind of just one person we have accomplished what we set out to do. I guess it comes down to the fact that as artists we are a niche. But within that niche we all struggle to find that voice that is distinctly our own, our niche within the Niche. I can already see yours starting to take shape, Raven, and I will predict that it will definitely make heads turn and there will be little doubt as to what you are trying to say with your art.
    Your voice is clear and distinct and very honest. You have that rare ability to see both sides of a story which can sometimes feel like a curse. But we need that so desperately now in this time we are in. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself creating a brand new niche of your very own to fit into.
    Love & Peace, Sister. :o)

  2. Thank you Carrie! You are so articulate and sensitive in your writing. “Art is prayer” is a wonderful saying and such a great reminder of what drew most of us to art in the first place. Peace and love to you as well. You are such a Light!

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