Sitting down a Working Woman/Artist (literally)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Well, we started standing up, but the discussion during our Lunchtime Art Break this afternoon on Women Artists/Women Workers was so casual and intimate that we all sat down in the galleries to hear from our guest speaker Gwen Diehn. Gwen is an artist and a retired faculty member of the Warren Wilson art department and a wife and the mother of three kids. She gave us some insight into the life of an artist who also must juggle work, married life, kids, and just life in general. When and how do you make time for your art practice?

It was only fitting that we sat down in the Ruth Asawa gallery. Ruth had six children, a husband, and, eventually, a prolific arts advocacy career. Yet, she produced an array of art, which she made great strides with in the art world.

Here are some great insights from Gwen on being an artists and having a life:

1. It does not matter what you do after art school (if you go). Being an artist is finding time for your practice. Some people work at 3am before their crazy jobs start or their babies wake up. What is important is to find time for it and to do it regularly.

2. Being a
n artist does not necessarily mean that your end goal is to show in a big New York gallery. You might be on the other end of the spectrum, where you are not concerned at all about selling a piece. Think about where you fit on the spectrum and tailor your goals accordingly.

3. Finding space for art can be hard sometimes so it is good to keep tools and supplies available, out in the open, easily reachable, and available to all. Gwen had a printing press in the dining room, where it fit.

4. Involve those around you. When your kids are sick, you may have to draw them in bed. Your kids might want to help you crank the press in the dining room. They learn and you practice.

5. It is so helpful to have a partner who supports your daily juggle and pushes you to maintain your practice. Support can come in all forms- financial, emotional, etc.

6. Priorities are priorities but that does not always mean that your art practice is always at the top. Don’t feel bad if you get consumed by the love for your new baby, etc.- pick up your artistic practice when you are ready- just don’t forget about it entirely.

Thanks to Gwen for a unique look at Ruth Asawa. Check out our upcoming Art Breaks! We have lots of special guests coming in to give us fresh perspectives!