Several weeks ago, on a lark, I applied for a position as painter/animator for an upcoming film titled Loving Vincent, about Vincent Van Gough. You can learn more about the film and view the trailer here: http://www.lovingvincent.com It is a fascinating concept and hope the film does well. I spent an entire day pulling material together to send in my submission for a chance to travel to Poland for the summer to paint and animate frame by frame, and earn a bit of cash.
I do have the chops for the project, but you could never tell by my portfolio. The whole process of trying to gather materials together was eye opening. I sent in my application simply to finish what I had started. It was obvious as I tried to organize images and information that it wasn’t going well. Needless to say, they didn’t call. However that’s not the point. At the end of the day, trying to put together a reasonable bio and digital sample sheet revealed that several years of building an art career has pretty much been lost.
Yes, I set painting down intentionally to care first for my mother and now for my wonderful in-laws. I did realize (at least to some extent) the sacrifice I was making at the time. I did hope one day I would return to it. Now, I’m realizing that in order to do so, I’ll have to start back at square one. I’ve lost or misplaced my archive of slides that need to be transferred into digital format. I have no idea who owns the works that were sold through various galleries and shows. A few blurry prints from old photos is not going to cut it. All the years of art shows, awards, group and solo gallery shows, and earning a listing in Who’s Who are gone. Perhaps gone is the wrong word. Irrelevant. The world of art has passed me by while I’ve attended to other (important) things.
Questions arise. Do I have the passion and the stamina it will take to start at the beginning again? Do I even want to, or do I want my creative expression to be more personal and out of the public eye? So far, that has mostly been the case. That begs another question. How do I make a living? Building up a body of work, entering shows, framing, and transporting work all take a chunk of change. Eventually, you may start selling and recouping your output but there are no guarantees. Do I want to go through that process again?
There always seems to be more questions than answers. Today is no different. But questions are important. Sometimes, more important that the answers. You wouldn’t know it by many conversations in the public square. Conversations about faith, social justice, equality or politics revolve on various people claiming they have the answer but often to questions no one is asking. Questions that have no relevancy. Seriously, a seventy year old Christian woman is paraded down the street naked in Egypt, there is genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are serious questions of racial inequality in the United States, and our biggest public dialog is about bathrooms?
We need to not be afraid of hard questions and hard answers, or even no answers. Else we run the risk of being irrelevant.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.