Identity: How to Explore Your Message & Expression

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." Nameless An Exploration of Form-Mel BIkowski

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!

Art Print- Flower Magic- Mel Bikowski

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?



Mel B.

I had one cup of coffee today

Coffee- Mel Bikowski  

Happy Friday, Everyone! What's your guilty pleasure? Mine is Coffee.

For the past month (more like 22 days) I have been on a coffee detox. When I was younger, it was no interest of mine to really drink it. I felt as if it was something that grown ups drank and I really liked tea over anything anyway (side note: BlueBerry Aloe Tea is everything right now!). But a couple years ago before I had my daughter, Cayce, I started having one cup of coffee a week.

The flavor, the warmth, and the habit of drinking it in the morning began to be this comforting feeling that I really enjoyed. I found that on rainy days it was even more special to just have a cup of coffee with my morning routine at work. So, I started drinking it every morning when I got to work. I have never really amounted to more than one cup a day, but something changed with my relationship with coffee this past year.

Mel Bikowski- Artist- 2017

Sometime last year I was no longer drinking coffee because I enjoyed it. I was drinking coffee because it was comfortable.

Last year, I lost 3 people very close to my heart. I am still, right now, at this moment, devastated. Thinking about how special they were to me, thinking about the times I had with them laughing and talking about life. Two of them were my very best friends that I could count on for anything and one was my Grandma, who was very close to my whole family. My grandma was the glue and the magic of our family put into one person. An amazing and very inspiring lady. Her grace and attitude is something one day I hope to live up to.

Grief is extremely hard to address. Grief is also almost scary to even publicly share with people. As an introvert, I have no idea what to say to "I'm sorry for your loss" or "Aww, they will be missed." I just want to be left alone to cry in a corner with my favorite blanket. Grief is vulnerable, messy, painful, and also deeply healing. I mean, wow- hey- it's been a year guys- and I am still not over the fact that people passed on to another place.

So while on this coffee detox, I have been wondering to myself, why am I going to miss that one cup of coffee a day? My mood with coffee had changed. When I got a cup of coffee, it was because something is starting to irritate me or I am forcing myself to trudge through all the loads of work that I have signed myself up for and by the way, this year I signed up for a lot of it.

Work- Coffee- More Work- Sleep- Repeat- Anything but cry- Anything but address Grief.

I also feel that coffee directly affects my mood and sometimes creates illusion of anxiety, which I don't actually have, but man have I been through many a panic attack this year. It's as if my grief was trying to bubble to the surface and I was shoving breakfast blend down grief's throat instead.  Besides, my body & energy just doesn't work well with stimulation. I notice that naturally, I have a great amount of energy- I process life very deeply and when I need to take something slow, I take it really slow, but I can't do that with coffee. I can't take work slow and I definitely can't even take on grief at all.

Something I noticed during this 22 days without coffee is that all the grief that I have been ignoring has bubbled to the surface at once. Lots of crying- poem writing- and just grounding into the emotions that I have been ignoring for so long. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I love them so much. Honoring a lot of grief- reflection- forgiving myself for not even addressing this until now. Working on letting go of any guilt I might have that is directly related to ways that maybe I could of been a better friend to those friends I have lost.

So, why have a cup of coffee today? (which ps. I didn't even make it through the whole cup)

For me it wasn't the coffee that created the illusion, it was the security of it and the busy-ness of my life that brought me to feel less like myself. It isn't me to be in denial about something that is going on and it certainly isn't me to not address my emotions. Even more, it certainly is not me to be a busy- little -extroverted bee. I am not a bee- I am a bear. A seeker of wisdom (or sweets) and then I hibernate and process it after I have had enough. I feel better right now as I write this. I feel more myself. I feel like now that I know what to work on- I can heal-

So- I treated myself. & that's okay.

No judgement here- just happy sparkly mermaid unicorn guardian of the galaxy vibes- and maybe hey, if I was a My Little Pony, I would say I am Twilight, but I feel a little bit like Pinkie Pie right now :P

So Happy Friday everyone- I will end this one with a deep thought-

how does certain habits disguise things that you need to heal? Is a food that you enjoy actually covering up something that you need to address? Do you not react well to specific chemicals entering your body?

Are you forgetting to address something that you need to let go of? Let's heal. Together.