…To Be An Artist…


(This is my response to all of the heated discussion over

Zom Osbourne’s beautiful blog post:

You Don’t Have To Be An Artist To Make Art)

In my early twenties, when I was in Art School and working for the Cleveland Museum of Art, I had a very narrow and rigid view of what an Artist is and who was “worthy” enough of such a title. On top of it all–my love of writing and Art led me to a degree in Art History–which helped me refine my elitist beliefs even more during those years.

But what happened is that I accidentally fell into teaching and I began to notice first hand the impact Art had on people’s lives.

Everyday people. Not just a chosen few.

I remember carrying my groceries back home after a visit to the West Side Market in Cleveland when this woman slammed on her brakes in the middle of the street, did a u-ey, and parked on the edge of the sidewalk–just so her whole family could meet me. “You changed my life–and my marriage.” she told me.

And when her kids and husband crawled back into the mini-van, with tears in her eyes she hugged me tight and said she could never thank me enough….I had helped her become an Artist.

I was only 20 years old carrying a bag of fruit and veggies I was praying would get me through the week. She must have been at least 30 years older than me with a ring on her finger that equalled three years of my paychecks and a life that seemed completely foreign.

And the one word that connected us both was Artist.

I knew then that there was more to this label than I was taught and conditioned to believe. I just didn’t know where to look…who to turn to. But I always came back to teaching–because to me–that’s where the heart was pumping and the spirit soars. Something about a group of people gathered together all in the name of creativity and expression. It doesn’t matter what the medium is or how much experience you have or if you make Art your vocation, career, or weekend hobby–at that very moment and time, we are all Artists.

To be honest with you…years ago if someone asked me what makes someone an Artist and someone not– I would have whipped out a blog post so strong and slick and clever that even Clement Greenberg would have risen from the dead just to read it.

But the fact is…I don’t care anymore. I stopped caring about what makes someone an Artist and what doesn’t the day I quit working at the Art museum.

I made a conscious decision from that moment on that I wanted to know what connects us as Artists instead of what divides us or even defines us.

Because lets get real. At the end of the day–no matter if you are some millionaire Artist with a fancy studio in NYC or some sweet little lady dabbling in your Art journal on the kitchen table in the middle of Wisconsin….it is us…Artists…that can make real positive change happen in this world….

no matter what side of the imaginary fence you are creating on.

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