Have you ever had a moment where you saw someone doing something – maybe it is a physical feat or a lifestyle choice or some sort of art – and you thought, I didn’t even know that is possible! It stops you in your tracks and makes you think. It can break down some wall you didn’t know you had. Open you up to new possibilities and a breadth of thinking about the world, the people in it, and how they make choices in their life. Maybe how YOU make choices in your life.
I had the opportunity to think on this concept this weekend. A lovely friend came to Corvallis to spend the day on Saturday, and as we were chatting over chai, I asked about her daughter, who is nearing the end of her undergraduate degree. Is she going on to grad school? I asked. Probably not, she said, and we talked about what she would be doing.
It brought to mind my own experience in college. Being the first of my family to go to college, I eked my way through. Scholarships, financial aid, working two or three jobs at a time and studying like crazy to get done in four years. Exhausting. So when my advisors really wanted me to go on to grad school, I rebuffed them. Why? I couldn’t live like that for another few years. I was ready to get my degree and a job and have a life. I didn’t realize there were other ways to fund graduate school… That with my grades and as a woman in electrical engineering I could have had a full ride somewhere. I didn’t realize what was possible because I had never seen it. No one I knew, no one in my immediate experience, had ever gone to grad school.
Seeing is believing. I couldn’t see how. I didn’t believe. I didn’t even realize the possibilities that existed.
After chatting over chai about life and work and family and art, my friend and I continued on our day by visiting a few artists studios in an Open Studio event. Several professors from the Oregon State University art faculty opened their studios on Saturday to the public. It was fantastic to see the studio spaces and the range of work they were doing. Every artist’s space and art is so unique. It is wonderful to talk to the artists about the work they create and why. Our favorite visit was with Clint Brown. For a while we were the only people there, and we had a nice long conversation about his different work, his process and things he had done, and he even pulled out some of his photo collage work from years ago after talking with me about what I had recently been doing. Wonderful.
As we left his studio I realized how important these open studio visits can be. This is only the second time I’ve attended, but they’ve had an amazing impact on me. You can see where, what and how the artists create. You can see what is possible. And just like anything else, seeing is believing. For those of us coming to art later in life, who don’t have an art background or education, it can be eye opening. If you don’t know any professional artists or see how they work, how can you believe it’s a possible choice? It can seem as much a fantasy as going to grad school did to me so long ago. But when you see it first hand and talk to the artists it is different. You learn that it is possible to live a life that involves creating art as an everyday thing. I’m not sure the artists realize what an impact they can have by sharing their space and their art in this simple way.
Have you ever visited an open studio event? I encourage you to. Chances are, there is one sometime during the year near your home. It’s a fantastic way to see the art that is being created in your local area, meet the artists, and to open your eyes to possibility. Seeing is believing.
And to wrap the story back around… I eventually did get to grad school, in the way that made sense to me. I did it in the evenings while working full time, and my employer paid for it. I don’t have any regrets for the choices that I made at the time, since they all led me to the path I am on today. Looking back I can see why I made those choices: I didn’t truly understand the possibilities.
Think about what that might mean for you. What do you believe is possible?
Blogs and books are also wonderful ways to learn other people’s stories and see what is possible. The Spark & Inspire eBook is a perfect example! I’m excited to announce the winner of the eBook giveaway: Judy Salcedo of Hey Jude Photography, a long-time participant around here. Congrats Judy!