The other night I received a disappointing email informing me that my art was not compatible with the vision of the art fair, so my application was not accepted.
I get this a lot, in one form or another. That my art is like the colour that spilled outside the defined lines, not qualifying for the "official nod" and yet also not the kind that people would call "breakthrough", "edgy", or any of those adjectives used to describe art that often look way too out there and yet somehow earns the wave of the wand that labels them "art".
Funny thing is, this happens to me in my own country, my local communities. I do not fit in the local "scene". Yet when my art goes beyond the country borders I get an astounding amount of support -- and I don't mean just foreign folks but also former locals who have now migrated or are working as expats. There must be something in the air out there that clears the head and the heart to be more open and to see more.
Granted there are a few locals who do believe in what I do - a precious handful against the larger network whose radar keeps on passing me over.
I understand this. I can even tell you why it is this way, what the cultural mindsets are, what values drive the mindsets. I even know which of my own personal flaws and shortcomings aggravate the situation. I've studied people for twenty years, I have a pretty good idea why I'm having such a hard time all my life.
I have not set out to complain or rant but to set the context so I can show that despite this, the magic happens.
The days after the rejection these other things happened that made the rejection seem almost ridiculous to feel too bad about:
What this all means to me: The list may not seem too impressive to someone who has a standard idea of what a real "success" looks like for an artist. But I am coming from the context of having nothing at all. And I am tuned into the kind of hope and optimism that rejoices at every tiny progress. I also came from a long period of being invisible as an artist, so long that a single encouraging comment can sustain me for days.
What I am seeing now is cause to continue my path. Already I have received inquiries for Christmas commissions. There are also many other possible ways for me to sell outside of the approval-by-committee groups who set up the fairs and bazaars. If the local suppliers work out I can already expand my local shop offerings and add another stream of creative income. And today I have put my days into a structure to steer my creative productivity into becoming a stable source of income. Always, of course, keeping in touch with the core of what it is all about -- about being an Agent of Hope, and about changing the hearts of the world.