Blog: Selfishness Part I

Christine Alfery

Posted on September 27 2019

On the Horizon Home


Featured image: On The Horizon


Should we be selfless as artists?  Should our work be selfless, non referential to who we are?  There are so many values and collectives who believe that selflessness is a virtue.  A virtue that a member of the group must strive for in order to get into heaven, reach utopia, and peace.

Or, as an artist, is it more important to know yourself when you are creating works of art and coming up with fresh, new ideas? Should an artist know more about themselves before they can truly be able to know others? Is it a good thing for an artist to know themselves before they know and relate to another’s work?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard an artist say,  “I never know what is going to happen when I first begin to paint. I just begin to paint and something happens.”  Really? Believe it or not, I used to say that. I used to think that the paint and the paper or canvas would talk to me and I would merely be a messenger for their message, a vessel for their words to speak through me. I wouldn’t want anyone to talk to me during the time of creation. I would say that I was in a different world and it shouldn’t be disturbed.  Really? I really said that.

I have changed.  There is no way that I come to a blank slate and bring nothing to it.  That different world is what I now call the aesthetic state, the wow moment and it is glorious.  But, there is no way I come to it and bring nothing to the event.

The value of self needs to be recognized and celebrated, not made into a void and nothingness.  

The value of selflessness has been created in order to be able to govern. And, frequently, the value of selflessness is linked to the notions of hope, wishes and dreams; supposedly, dreams  you, as an individual, have about yourself, but have not been able to acquire. A simple one is being rich. How does one become rich? Does someone just win a million dollars by some accident or game of chance? And will that someone be you?  That is rare. For the most part, richness is earned. Just like being an artist is earned, it just doesn’t happen because you wish it.

Believing in yourself. Governing yourself is for me a very important element in creating and making art. I am not always successful.  I get many rejections when I submit my work to competitions. And I look at a work I have just completed and say, “Gosh, that is just awful.” When I post the work online,  I frequently say what a difficult time I had figuring out the work. And, for the most part I am not excited about the work. I often find I am way more critical of my work than others are.  I know not everything is wonderful, beautiful or great. I am incapable of doing perfect every time. What I find strange is that the pieces I don’t like many others just fall in love with. Is that individualism or what?  And it is a good thing in art.

Yesterday  I delivered a work to an exhibition I was invited to participate in.  One that I took a historical artifact as inspiration and created an artwork from that inspiration.  I have never done anything like that before, so it was exciting for me to try. I finished the work and thought it was good. After I delivered it and was walking away from it I glanced back, stopped and immediately said, “ That is an awful work.”  

Here is the conclusion I came to after thinking that.  I am capable of trying, exploring and experimenting. It is what I believe art is all about.  I am capable of moving on and through ideas and concepts I have and what I believe in. I know when I can accomplish something on my own, and when I should reach out and ask for help from others.  But, this reaching out should never be mistaken for my r

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