I’ve lived in Atlanta for about three years now so you can imagine how many art festivals and markets I’ve been to. After a while, everything starts to look the same to me. Not in a bad way – just in the fact that I’ve seen all the local vendors already. Thankfully, I was recently and pleasantly proven wrong when I stumbled upon MDC Interiors at ARTlantis.
In their sweet and humble booth full of tiny treasures, I met the warm and ever-so-lovely Mona Patel. She and her partner, Mike, began MDC Interiors to craft custom objects that are visually striking as well as beneficial for the environment. While I didn’t get to see their furniture pieces (due to the limited amount of space), I absolutely fell in love
Now that I’m an “adult”, I no longer have school assignments leading my art practice. This is liberating and terrifying. Without any limits, how do you chose to represent yourself? Wait, I’m wrong. There are definitely limits – the limits of self-doubt, financial resources, physical space, mentor support. I’ve been slowly and painstakingly inching towards finding imagery from within. While I could very easily just draw from life (and sometimes I do), my true self is only revealed in abstract gestures. What you see here is a small series from my sketchbook that I’ve titled “Lock”. They’re all 14 x 11 inches and done in Micron pen.
I envisioned these in my mind laying in bed one night, thinking about how to distill my mark to a pure form. They end up looking a lot like feathers or hair (hence the series title) and I love – yes, I love – how delicate they ended up. The movement in each line is subtle and sometimes strained, but always organic. It’s really difficult to take accurate pictures of my drawings, but I edited them to the best of my ability.
I decided to share this series as a part of the Love Yourself Linkup because the act of exposing my drawings is an act of self-love. It takes everything in me to be proud of myself. If you know me in real life then you know how ridiculously true this is. I’m terribly self-conscious about speaking about my work or showing my work – even more so if you’re my friend or loved one. So here I am, allowing myself to receive whatever reaction may come… including praise.
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This post is part of the Love Yourself Linkup, an ongoing series focusing on self-image to foster an engaged community of writers and readers to connect, share, and love. Anne The Adventurer bravely revealed her struggle to recovery and began this linkup to encourage other writers to share their unique experiences and journeys. You’ve read a little bit about it already, but here is the longer version of how I became who I am today.
For the greater part of my life, success for me was determined by the grades I received. The number one goal was to be at the top of the class in all subjects and to use any energy I had to get there. Yes, I was the Asian cliché: a timid and quiet overachiever raised in a strict environment who just wanted to make her parents proud. This deep sense of obligation was engrained in me early on and the only way I knew how to exist was to strive for perfection and do what was asked of me. Straight A’s were a standard of normalcy and the only acceptable report to bring home. Anything less resulted in a loss of privileges and along with it, strong words of disappointment, grief, and anger.
It was tough adolescence, but please don’t get me wrong. I was given as much love as I was given discipline, but my parents just had a different way of showing it. They were wonderfully generous to me, just not in an emotionally expressive way. You could say my mom was a little bit of a Tiger, but this was her own flavor of motherly love. If she didn’t push me to be better, who would? I’m sure this was the thinking behind it, but unfortunately it took me a lot of time to accept it as a positive force in the grand scheme of things.
There’s just too much stuff out there. It can be overwhelming, right? With the pervasiveness of social media in our everyday hand-held lives, almost every corner of the world is now open and available. Media is constantly zooming towards us and the response options are as follows: like, share, or keep scrolling. Then we just keep going because don’t want to miss anything, but as a result we devour without thought or emotion.
It’s rare that I come across a visual that truly draws something from within me. When I say rare, I mean social-media-rare like probably once every few weeks. This is even truer for the ever elusive “art world”. Luckily, there are people churning beauty every single day… like Samantha Keely Smith.
Her oil-painted universe is a turbulent crash of land, sky, sea, and self. Samantha writes:
In order to truly appreciate beauty and light, one must allow for the necessity of the dark.
It’s been almost three full years since I’ve graduated, and almost three years since I’ve made any “works of art”. I’ve always been my harshest critic when it comes to producing work so I’m constantly having to tell myself that it’s okay to ease back into it. It’s okay to do a little bit at a time.
The most difficult obstacle for me is that I can visualize greatness in my mind and it always ends up feeling so far away.
When I noticed the seductive ad for Push Push Theatre’s newest show, “See Through”, I felt excited about the prospect of going to an art exhibition for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately I’m so often disappointed by what the Atlanta art scene has to offer (more on that on another day) that I had unconsciously slipped into a period of art show abstinence. The ad itself was mysterious and cryptic. I couldn’t figure out if it were going to be a performance, an exhibition, an installation… or all of the above? I believe the words “party” and “maze” were also used somewhere. It held my gaze long enough that I was actually willing to purchase a ticket to experience it. The interactive cross-disciplinary foundation appealed to the adventurer in me, so it felt like just the cure to my malaise.
When I drove up to the show, I could already feel judgment brewing within me. The windows revealed a sparseness that felt unfinished and large bean bag chairs on the ground. I told myself that I needed to be more supportive, so I consciously made an effort to open up my mind to accept what might be hiding behind the white walls.
Hello there. My name is Christina Kwan. Nicknames usually refer to my last name like Kwannie, Madame Kwan, Obikwan… you get the gist. I’m a quarter century old (gulp) and trying to find – or more like create – a place for myself in the world.
At the core of my being, I am an artist. I have always had the inexplicable urge to create things and art class was hands-down my favorite part of school at every stage in my life. Now that I’m older and maybe just a tad wiser, I’ve realized that this is never going to go away because I always come back to beauty. It’s what I want more than anything, in everything I do. So instead of trying to fit myself into the professional career box, I’ve decided to accept my fate and pursue it with all the dedication that I would give to any other opportunity.
Beginning this blog went hand in hand with the decision to get back into making artwork. The words “tide” and “bloom” made sense to me as a description for the constant ebb, flow, and growth we all experience in our day-to-day lives. It is this push, this instinctual desire to move forward, that has brought me here.
Tide & bloom is a space to share and inspire creativity, in all forms that reveal themselves to me and you. I’m most inspired by natural wonders, culinary delights, thoughtful films, charming abodes, and of course other creative individuals. It’s my hope that reading this will be like reading letters from a dear friend or colleague and that it might motivate you to seek beauty in your own life and pursue the dreams you didn’t think possible.