Saturday, November 14, 2015

N is for Negativity

Its not that I am never guilty of it, in fact being negative about my own art defined me for many years. But now, especially as a teacher of seniors, all the negativity from my senior students is driving me nuts.

I am trying to figure out why, especially older women, can never find anything nice to say about themselves and their work. Its not that they don't know how - their praise to others is lovely and right on the mark. Yet when they look at their own work, they call themselves names (I am no artist!, stupid, ugly!) and refuse to acknowledge what others clearly see in their efforts. They never are even willing to acknowledge the simple fact of their effort and willingness to try. (BOO!)

Is this a cultural thing? Women of a certain age taught to be humble and self-effacing?  Is it true humility? Is it a way to get attention and praise? I don't know the answer, but the issue is not new to my current teaching situation.

I love embroidery - especially the beautiful and complex Russian embroidery I would often see in the homes of my husband's family friends and relatives. Yet whenever I commented on the beautiful work, the maker (always a woman) would say something along the lines of ... "oh it keeps me busy." Or, "its nothing."  Same for handmade sweaters and embroidered linens, and so much other work of women's hands.

This beautiful and handmade work is and was what inspires me to create - to make things - yet I long to see the well-deserved pride in craftsmanship that should accompany the satisfaction of creating something beautiful - and of working hard at something to achieve a completed piece.

That's my rant for the day. The art on this page is actually a digital creation based on a long-ago self portrait - of the me who was more negative about her work.