When you’re at the beginning of a hopefully lifelong career, everything can go wrong, but if it does, at least you don’t have much to lose.
I had an opening reception for my (first) solo show earlier this week, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
Partly because, as with most creative pursuits, there’s an inherent subjectivity of what is good or bad art, which always makes it feel like a bit of a gamble when you put your newest work out there. There’s no objective way of knowing if your paintings are actually good when it’s partially a matter of taste.
I know they say that as long as you like what you make, and are proud of it, let the rest of the chips fall where they may. But there’s definitely a large part of you that wonders (and worries) whether others will see what you see.
When you invite others to greet you and see your new works for the first time, there’s no place to hide, whether from criticism or praise or ambivalence, and that’s quite scary.
I guess it may always feel that way – this friction, hoping that what you think is your best work, is also going to be received well by the public, but knowing those are two separate things and that they’re not always going to align.
Though for all that (ir)rational fear, my first solo show went pretty well – really positive comments, and a great turn-out. It was inspiring to hear and see people’s reactions firsthand, to witness their enthusiasm, listen to their thoughtful questions and try to respond in an equally eloquent way (though mostly failing at that last one…hard to sound eloquent when your nerves are leaking words, so you’re not even sure what’s coming out of your mouth anymore. Did I mention I was nervous?). Though people have been coming up to me this past week, mentioning that they had a good time, so all in all, I’d say it was a success.
Though, at the opening, I did have one of those moments, when you take a peek outside yourself, and realize this is it – this is where you’re supposed to be. It’s a happiness of a different breed – not the fleeting mania, but the pervasive sense of calm and contentment. I may have to put this realization onto a placard, and hold it up in the face of doubt.