Believing Oneself an Artist


I have been asked to participate in this semester’s round of the Artists’ Biography Project. The project, coordinated by my friend, artist Amy Fill and also by professor Carol Geu, has USD art students interviewing and photographing local artists and creative people with their work for a framed exhibition at the end of the semester. These biographies then become part of the permanent collection of the Vermillion Area Arts Council (thus giving us something to hang on the walls of the Washington Street Arts Center when there’s no other show on exhibit).

I was flattered by the notion that my friends and colleagues consider me an artist–right up until the point when I received the letter from the student assigned to me. Then I started to panic. Am I an artist, really? What do I do? Write a few words, grow a few vegetables? Will this student, when he comes, give me a blank look and think, “She’s not an artist! Why am I even here?”

I go back and forth about trying to “prove it” and not trying at all. I think about the projects I’ve done and wonder if I should create some sort of artist’s resume–if not for the student’s benefit, then maybe just for my own. I don’t draw; I don’t paint; I don’t make sculpture or design buildings. I’m not extensively published. I write close to home. I grow close to home. I encourage other people to write and to grow as well. I support local artists by buying art and encouraging and engaging in projects that provide artists publicity and income.

So, what is my art? The existential crisis continues…

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