July 21st, 2023
The Pressure I’ve Carried Around My Whole Life Until Now
Written by Ellie LeMonnier: Gallery Intern
One of my projects as an intern is updating Gallery MAR’s artist biographies and CVs. Gallery MAR has around forty different contributing artists so it has been quite the project to contact and compile all of their information. Fortunately, I have really enjoyed interacting with artists and learning about the lives behind the works of art I see in the gallery every week. Like all people, each artist has their own unique experiences that make them who they are, but unlike I expected, their lives are full of other non-artistic careers and passions. I was surprised by how much this surprised me. Obviously artists are free to enjoy and pursue things besides art, but it still came as a revelation to me!
I don’t know where it came from exactly, but I have always had this misconception that people needed to be one thing in their lives and they needed to figure out what that was as fast as possible. Maybe this comes from being in a society that loves to ask little kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?” just so adults can hear cute answers like “astronaut” or “the president” and chuckle at the whims of children. Or maybe it comes from the natural pressures of school and the need to make decisions about what to study based on future career goals. Even as a child, questions about my future career and passion filled me with dread because I never had a solid answer. Worse, I still don’t have a well-rounded and planned answer; another source of anxiety for me as I uneasily traverse through a decision-filled college experience.
A lot of pressure gets placed on kids and young adults to have a goal and a clear, organized plan to reach it. Further, that goal seemingly denies room for stops along the way to try things out, to fail, or even to give up. The goal must be certain, singular, and absolute – supposedly.
Previously, when I thought of artists, I imagined people born with paint in their veins, brushes for fingertips, and a perfectly set and followed plan to artistic success. I assumed that the artists from our gallery were just artists and that is all they had ever been because that is how I had been conditioned to think.
However, researching Gallery MAR’s artists yields different results, as you would assume – especially if you don’t share the same, slightly-harmful mindset I had. These artists hold so many skills and so much knowledge that on the outside, have nothing to do with art. Our artists are mechanical and civil engineers, computer programs, creative writers, and architects. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters; each honing roles that are just as important as their role as an artist.
Besides the fun I had in seeing how these backgrounds manifested in the artist’s artwork, this experience was also personally eye-opening for me. These people were not always artists and if they were, they were artists and other things. Their identity was separate from their career because one’s career should be a malleable and evolving thing that does not have to be decided or set in stone. Some artists studied one thing in college and then switched to being an artist later in life, demonstrating the possibility of changing one’s goals or having more than one.
Thanks to Gallery MAR’s amazing artists, I have felt the encompassing pressure I’ve carried around with me suddenly slacken. I can do anything I want, whenever I want. I can start and end at any time. I am not in a race.