Art and Fear was published in 1993. I was twelve years old, and very busy decorating my latest journal with collages of teen heart throbs I’d cut out from drugstore magazines. I wanted to be a talk show host when I grew up. I knew two artists– my mom’s brother and her aunt (who much later would become my mentor), but I didn’t think much of either art or artists. I had no idea that I would become one, and, even now, when someone calls me that or I have to answer what “I do,” I have to fight the part of me that feels silly applying that title to myself.
I encountered the book in 2002 when it was assigned to me in college by my painting professor. I don’t remember having any big feelings about it then, but somehow the paperback made it through every move, every apartment, every house, every decluttering where boxes upon boxes of other books ended up at Goodwill.
I reopened it a few years ago, and to my absolute delight and astonishment, it spoke with a forceful precision into my newfound life as an artist. It named and then validated my fears. It took what felt ineffable and put it into direct and beautiful sentences that made me wonder what I thought was so complicated after all. As I scribbled notes in the margin and avoided the temptation to highlight every sentence, it both comforted and challenged me.
Now, I carry it with me in my purse. I pull it out in waiting rooms, and in lines. I open it when I am stuck and frustrated, ready not only to throw in the towel, but to shred it into tiny pieces with which to wipe my many tears, then scatter those ashes onto the tombstone of my easel. I open it when I am happy that I get to do the thing I once thought impossible to do. I open it all the time. I keep it at the ready.
And now, I really want to discuss it. With you.
It’s been brewing for quite some time– if you are an artist (of any kind) I would love to invite you to an artist book club at the gallery in which Art and Fear will be the first book. I would love to sit around with our favorite beverages, maybe a shared snack or two, and chat about the “perils (and rewards) of artmaking.” If this interests you at all, but you are not local to the Mississippi coast, I’m also considering an additional zoom version of the book club as well.
You can click below to let me know you’re interested in joining (either in-person or virtual) so I can work with you to figure out the best days/times to meet. I think people are at their bests when they are connected with others and able to learn from them. I’m jazzed.
Written by Denise Hopkins
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