My Artist Residency In Puebla, Part 1: Wrestling With Beauty and Painting
I recently finished up an artist residency in Puebla City, Mexico. This was a bold leap for me for several different reasons.
First of all, I had never left the United States before. This was my first time traveling, and I was doing it alone.
Secondly, I had never participated in an artist residency. I was intimidated by the thought of meeting other artists who might be better than me, or might have more to say, or might think my work was garbage.
And the reason why this was a bold leap that I didn’t even anticipate...
It was the first time that I have been forced to think about the ethics and the intentions behind my work - and to talk about it.
Throughout the residency I was asked really difficult questions, and sometimes I got lost in the jargon of sociology and art history and I didn’t even feel like I could participate in these conversations about my own work.
Francisco Guevara, the co-founder and director of the residency program, pushed us each week with readings, seminars, workshops, and individual meetings about our work. In the first critique, Francisco told me that the strength in my work was the honesty. So, a week later, when he asked me the following question, I knew I had to be honest:
What is the shadow in your work?
He explained that every piece of art illuminates light onto something, but you cannot have light without shadow. I knew this shadow before I even came to this residency, but I now had the permission and the support to vocalize it.
“Beauty,” I answered. See, I’ve had the same point of view about myself as I have had about my art for a long time. Make yourself and your art pretty so you’ll get positive feedback...even if they don’t understand it, that’s irrelevant, because their approval is paramount.
Up until now, when I’ve created art, I’ve only let the beautiful pieces see the light of day and I’ve literally hidden away the ones I deemed ugly. Out of fear of rejection. Do you know what that reminds me of? My experience with anorexia.