Labels cannot be avoided. At my show recently at the Village Gallery, I came across many people that wanted to talk about who I am/ was; what my art was identified as and how I identified myself. One person that really stuck in my mind was this younger girl that interviewed me about each piece while carrying a sketchbook of her own work. Clearly, she was an artist. I asked her how she felt about the paintings and she said, “Well, they are very colorful. So I would assume that the works in this show come from extroverted artists.” Interested, I asked her to expand, only for her to continue to say, “Art has much value in it, a depth and aptitude of color that creates value and expression. Most artists are introverts because they understand how to use these dark colors and balance them in their work. These artworks themselves, don’t use much black, if anything they don’t use value at all.”
This stung me at my core. Number 1, my personality was being stigmatized by the way that I use color in my artworks and number 2, honestly, I really needed to work on value.
So how does this apply to exploring my identity? Well, I took my time to think about what she said and I questioned and explored the information.
First and foremost, I am not an extrovert. She had that wrong. By definition, I am an introvert (according to MBTI standards), but I don’t define myself as one.When I am out and about (which is not very often) you won’t find me in sitting in a corner mumbling to myself, “oh I’m an introvert, that’s why I can’t talk to you.” lol. And you know, to be honest, I think a lot of introverts get really stigmatized. My closest friends will say that I am loud, talkative, and zany. Much like an extrovert would be if you were to judge someone by the textbook definition. But, my friends would also say, that I need my space. My alone time. They will say that you can certainly find me recharging or thinking about something out of this world. My mind is hyperactive. Filled with ideas and I do not really need other people around to feel energized and thought provoked. I mean, maybe if that person was Albus Dumbledore or my husband, who I am lucky to share a space with and lets me rant for days about nonsense even if he doesn’t agree with anything I am saying. (An example- last week I told him all about my past life reading and how it applied to me now. With open eyes and an open heart, he just smiled and took it in. lol) & on top of that, one of my favorite mottos of all time is “Work Hard in Silence. Let your success make all the noise”.
And Second, How do Bright Colors get categorized as Extroverted? Is it because they can be the life of the party, loud, in your face, sometimes zany in artwork? Is it because Introverts are stigmatized to be dark and foreboding? It’s possible!
I think for the most part, we need to look at labels as we look at the light on the moon. The Moon Exists in Space. It reflects the sunlight. Much like ourselves as humans reflect information and identity. We are merely borrowing from our knowledge and reflecting it. The labels and identity traps are meant to guide you in exploration to define and see who you are. To help you gravitate towards the knowledge that will allow you seek your highest good. That is why we need to be careful with labels and as artists NEVER LET THEM DEFINE US.
So back to the girl and my artworks. I could of just stopped her right there and said, no way, jose. I am an introvert. I am on the MBTI scale as an INFJ. **BIG HMMPH** or I could of just listened to her and looked at what she was saying about my artwork and how she labeled it and decided to use it as a tool for clarifying if I am conveying the message that I am trying to convey.
As an artist, we delve in and explore identity. I find that we observe it. We see it and redefine how the world can view these perceptions. But to start, we need to see whether or not these labels are fitting for our artworks, our message, ourselves. And it’s A-OK to change the way you see yourself and it’s definitely A-OK to change identities. Labels and Identities do not define our work. Who we are as people and what we are interested in does. We as artists are like the moon- faithfully shining down onto Earth an expression of our Muses, which for the moon, is the Sun.
So moonchildren, what are you going to reflect outward today?