An artist perspective: Losing oneself to find oneself

Hawaiian Skies oil 4×5 2019

It’s been a dry and hard few years. I’ve gone through a number of experiences that had left me drained and desirous of creating boundaries, boundaries for my own sanity and my own health. At the same time, those boundaries shut off my access to my creative self, or they seemed to. I think that the journey over the past few years, as a cultural worker, as an artist, these things for me were un compatible. 

I remember the early 2000s when I was an artist at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna. I was so thrilled to be chosen to be a resident artist that I stayed for ten years. Somewhere though along that way I lost my focus on the work itself. The work morphed into community work when I went on the Kelowna Museums and the Arts Council board, when I let my drawing group become Livessence, when I started the Okanagan Erotic Art Show with two others. The other two had the sense to leave after the first year but I was pretty excited about that show so I carried it on for another five years.

Then when I left the Rotary Centre, I went on artist residencies to Italy and Spain which I loved. Seemed to get me back into a groove but then when I got home I became interested in making things happen on the Westside in the Okanagan. My vision of a unified Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples, culturally standing together side by side as the original Two Row Wampum Belt intended, separate but each supportive, resulted in the creation of Suk’temsqilx’w West Kelowna Arts Council. I stopped painting, seriously painting, in 2014.

I left the Okanagan with my family to live in Victoria BC in 2017. That proved a boon and a tragedy. A boon because I was burnt out and who knows how long it would have been before I had a break down, and a tragedy because it is now 2019 and the dual culture arts council is no longer dual culture. It is just the West Kelowna Arts Council. That has made me sad. But it has also woken me up to the realization that just because you build it just because they come doesn’t mean they’re going to stay.

So, after time thinking and feeling, remembering and envisioning my future, my own future, I’ve returned to painting and soon, drawing and sculpture. My Master of Arts is complete, the art exhibition was a success and I’ve returned to myself, working on finding out what my own vision of my future. I’m relearning how paint works, relearning how to express. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always easy. Why should it be? 

Musing 1 (wip) oil 2019 12×16

All the time and effort and concentration I invested in the community, in my degrees, in the analysis of my experiences I am now investing into my painting and sculpting. Who I am, what I am, how I am will be unveiled in the coming months and years. I have to hold space for myself.

And myself is saying, finally.