What hurdles must one overcome, what qualifications must one have, what level of training or number of pieces or items sold or percentage of time spent grants someone the title of ARTIST?
I have no idea. This is just a blog, not a soap box. I go back to one of my all time favorite movies, The Matrix, as a source for my metaphors. Neo asks the Oracle how he will know if he is the one. She tells him that you just know it. The Oracle points to the sign TEMET NOSCE and says, "It means know thy self. I wanna tell you a little secret, being the one is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love, you just know it, through and through."
So, now I present some ponderings on the topic. I remember early on after my surgery when I began to realize my brain had been altered, I was not sure how to communicate this. It seemed important that I get an official diagnosis. I read about malingering and hypochondria. How would I ever be certain that these words did not describe me? When the part of you that describes symptoms is the same part of you that is suddenly processing information incorrectly, how can you be sure if anyone understands you? You can't.
I wanted someone to explain what was wrong with me. I wanted a diagnosis. I wanted an indisputable argument to present in my own defense when I was misunderstood or berated for inappropriate behavior. I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I stand teetering on the precipice of self-knowledge. I do not need an endorsement from the outside world. I know. I have a brain injury.
In some ways it is like any number of life experiences or elements of ourselves that set us apart from others, we take comfort in being with people have that in common. A friend told me that after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she could only stand to be around other survivors because no one else understood.
Using words to describe yourself to someone else is only useful when you have a shared understanding of those words.
But, I digress. What's new? Enough about me, what do you think of me? That is not a real question. I do not want to care what other people think of me anymore. The hardest part of leaving my job as a teacher was losing the sense of self-worth it gave me. I loved being loved by so many students and by so many parents. I loved that they loved me because I took the time to get to know each student. I was really good at it, but even better, they told me so.
So am I an artist? Yes. There may not be any outside validation and there may be countless opinions, both for and against such a statement. I'm okay with that.
I am going to share some photos of my art. (Yes, there is still the part of me that is a vain and gluttonous whore seeking praise and approval. Why else would I blog at all?)
If you are in New Jersey, near Raritan Valley Community College, stop by and check out work created by people with Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury, including these pieces by artist Alyson Vega, now through July 22, 2012.