A personal update: The struggle is real

Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.  – H. Matisse

It’s a bizarre conflict I struggle with, daily. I’m lost in a world that doesn’t understand my work – or at least that’s how I feel, and ultimately, I’ve begun asking myself a very important question: Why am I making what I make?

There is a conflicting dichotomy within myself that constantly argues two valid points.
One – make work for competition to show the world what I am capable of and to prove to myself that my work is valid in the eyes of judges.
And two – create something that is beautiful, if not fully understood, just for the sake of creative expression and refreshing my idea stream.

The former has potential success and accolades attached to it; the latter is purely intrinsic and needs not be validated by anyone but myself.

And therein, my internal debate rages on – which point is more valid?

I suppose any artist (And let’s not mince words here, I DO NOT consider myself an artist. I just make stuff.) would say, “Well obviously you need to satisfy the self, for without that sense of identity, the work will suffer.” However, the accolades that accompany the success often allow me to continue the work and give me the means to explore the medium further.

The debate rages on, but recently, the flame has grown to consume me.


So, where am I right now?
I’m not really sure.

With Houston killing their wearable division and other show judges falling firmly back on traditional designs, I just feel that I’m out of step with the current clothing zeitgeist, in competition at least. This jarring syncopation has burned me out and I’m taking a little break from competing with clothes.  Might be a month, might be a year, who knows?

At this point, I could go on and on about how I see the wearable art competitions being judged, but honestly, I’m just tired of swimming upstream and need to step back from it all.

I’ve been pestered bullied coerced told I should make quilts by my friends (ONE in particular), so I’ll try my hand at that for now. Will they be show ready? I dunno, but I enjoy the challenge of starting something new. Moreover, I won’t give up working with fabric.
It’s in my blood and I refuse to seek a transfusion.

Please note, this changing of the guard, so to speak, is my decision alone, and as much encouragement as I’ve received, I’ve had to arrive at this place by myself.

Believe me when I say it hasn’t been easy and I don’t want people to think I’ve abandoned clothing. I just need a break from competing with it until I feel the time is right to return. I’m still making stuff, I just don’t need a judge’s validation right now.

I know I’m my own worst critic, and nothing I do, in my eyes, will ever be good enough, but for now, I’m happy to start carving out a new creative path, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the clarity I constantly seek.


4 thoughts on “A personal update: The struggle is real

  1. You are on the right track because it is YOUR track and you are following it to wherever it leads…even if it changes on a dime tomorrow….and you ARE an artist….of the highest caliber….. like many artists, everyone sees it but you because you are too engrossed in living it to SEE it….and we onlookers continue to be totally amazed at what you create.

  2. Gilbert, I look forward to seeing where you go from here. I have been through this struggle, and, unfortunately, it is never quite over, but it is still interesting, dramatic, creative, and full of satisfaction even when the judges do not seem to understand. Your in-depth understanding of clothing is unique and wonderful, and I am quite certain it is not just clothing, but will translate well into the creation of anything in fabric, thread, and embellishments. It would be really fun to sit down and share a cup of coffee or glass of wine with you to talk over the world of fabrics, thread, art, and competition. Cheers.

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