Encouragement for Artists in My Inbox

Hey guys, this just dropped into my email box this morning, it was in a marketing email put out by an artist I follow.  I’m always on the look out for interesting thoughts on anything that applies to dancers and artistic types, I hope you find this timely and helpful!  The quoted text below is from Brainard Carey.

(Stay tuned next week for a post I’m working on about effective use of hands for stage and in front of the camera!)

“‘Build your self-esteem by not thinking about it.’ So tweeted Yoko Ono recently and it got me thinking about the trap of confidence and self-esteem. For everyone, and perhaps for those in the arts especially, self-esteem and confidence can be fraught topics. Artists spend their lives exposing that which is innermost and personal. Not only do we put the depths of our being out into the world, we also open ourselves up to judgment by all who encounter this very personal work. Together, these things can make for a harsh environment at times.

It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of constant worry about self-confidence and self-esteem. We feel as though we must focus on these things in order to be sure they are up to the task of protecting us from the slings and arrows of the every day. Like anything, the more we dwell on these things the less we allow ourselves to truly live. It is all too easy to get caught in the trap of inner monologue and forget that there is a whole world happening around us…

Artists must expose themselves to annihilation again and again. That is not to say that they must constantly face harsh criticism for their work. Of course this is always a possibility, but when we refer to annihilation here we mean simply the very act of exposing our work to the world. This is how we escape the trap of constant worry about confidence and self-esteem. This is how we build it by not thinking about it.

The bottom line is that we do not need to understand the root cause of every single feeling and action. Rather we need to discontinue the behavior, in this case a rotating inner dialogue about our own worth and abilities, and replace with action. For those of us in the arts, this could feel entirely counter-intuitive. An inward focus is part and parcel of what we do so letting go of this can be a struggle. It takes intentional action to remove ourselves from the whirlpool of self-doubt that can cause us to ultimately freeze up. By taking small actions every day, exposing ourselves, despite the fear, to those situations that push us outside our comfort zone we begin to build new habits. This is one way of interpreting the words of Yoko Ono. This is one way to ‘build your self-esteem by not thinking about it.'”

The above is written by Brainard Carey, artist, author and educator. To sign up for a free webinar from Brainard Carey and get a booklet on how he got into the Whitney Biennial, click here  To learn more about his educational opportunities for artist click here to learn about Praxis Center for Aesthetics.


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