Why I Love Showing My Work (even though it makes me nervous)

A couple weeks ago I was standing in a large, empty room in Truckee, California as the snow relentlessly fell outside. It was the moment before my latest show reception started. I tapped my toes inside my boot. I pushed aside the nagging question, “what if no one shows?” I looked around, feeling pride at all the pieces I had finished in the previous months.

I’ve never been one of those artists who felt a ton of resistance to showing my work, but it definitely used to be a more nerve-wracking moment than it is now. After years of painting, teaching, and refining I’ve come to a place of having confidence in what I’m putting out into the world. And that night I really realized something: I love showing my work.

People did come. Curious, engaged, talkative people. New people who wanted to hear about my process and the thoughts behind the pieces.

One man and I stared at my painting of Los Angeles and contemplated how peaceful it looked from afar. We discussed the pollution problems and blamed the mountain range that rose up from the surface of the substrate in the top of the painting.

One woman and I had a great conversation about modern ideas of identity and boundaries as we dissected the meaning of Cradle of Humanity. I explained that Cradle of Humanity is a painting of the topography of Laetoli, Tanzania where some of the first pre-human footprints were discovered, which I punctuated with modern country names in between the topography lines. To me, this piece is really about asking the viewer to question the way we segment ourselves in modern times considering we all came from the same ancestors.

Another couple found islands and towns around Seattle that they knew while I confirmed the locations and names.

Another local artist and I discussed the relationship between the organic and the graphical aspects of the earth, and what story that can tell about human impact. We noted that I often represent roads and rivers in the same way, by carving the encaustic base. I shared that this tension is often what I want the viewer to consider.

These conversations are why I love to show my art. I contemplate these concepts and relationships in my studio as I work, but if they never reach anyone, if they don’t translate, if they don’t resonate with others, what’s the point?

Every conversation I have allows me to refine and encourages me to continue the conversation. The little bits of vulnerability and nervousness that remain just let me know that I’m still alive.

My work is up at Atelier in Truckee, CA through February 2017.