This year I decided to join Zeta Omicron, the chapter of Kappa Pi here at Marywood. For those who do not know, Zeta Omicron is a national art honors society. I wanted to become a member as a way to further immerse myself into Marywood’s art department and meet other art students from different majors.
Every year Zeta puts on an art show. As soon as I heard about this I knew I wanted my piece to be really great as a way to showcase my talent. My art has been displayed at Marywood before, but never in a formal show where I’d have to present/speak about it. I originally wanted to paint a portrait. My canvas must have undergone five different portrait attempts before I gave up due to immense frustration. I tried warm colors, cool colors, and both. I tried brushes, palette knives, and both. Nothing was working for me the way I wanted it to. I started scraping paint off the canvas.
At this point I wasn’t even thinking about the Zeta show or what my canvas was about to become. I began to slosh on acrylic and watercolor. I chose bright colors – orange, red, pink. I had a brush in one hand and a palette knife in the other, swirling paint around with one and then scratching it with the other. I grabbed book pages used for scrapbooking and pasted them on the canvas. I found two sentences that spoke to me and blocked them out. I covered up the rest of the words. When I was finished I felt satisfied. I had seen this canvas undergo so many transformations and it was somewhat magical.
I submitted the piece, which I’d titled “Girls”, a few days later. I was happy with it until I was in the office, placing it in a pile amongst the works of my fellow Zeta members. I was mortified. I felt completely discouraged, wondering why I thought my piece was suitable for a show. I battled feelings of embarrassment for the entire week leading up to the show. I was petrified to have to go and speak about this piece next to artists with wonderful pieces.
The day of the show arrived and I had to tell myself repeatedly throughout the day that it didn’t matter how mine compared to the others. It was a struggle.
I got to the show 15 minutes early. I was completely shocked by the way I was greeted.
Zeta’s President, Emma Pilon, approached me to say that she had spoken with someone who made an offer to purchase my piece. I’d only listed it for $15 dollars because I had absolutely no faith that anyone would want to buy it. I was smiling from ear to ear as Emma spoke, saying the offer came from a young artist trying to build up his own personal collection. I was floored – I’d never sold my art before!
A few moments later a classmate of mine – whose artwork and incredible imagination I both envy and admire – came up to me to tell me how much she loved my piece. We talked for a few moments before she told me I should not have priced it so low. I explained to her why I did so, how I was embarrassed, and she shook her head the entire time. After thanking this classmate (also named Emma) for for all her kind words, a professor of mine told me she would like to ask me a few questions about my piece. She was curious about the process of how I created it. Whether she liked the piece or not, I was honored that she even spoke with me about it.
At the end of the night I left the show happy and very, very calm. The weight of anxiousness had been lifted from my shoulders. I was headed home with a few major lessons under my belt. I learned that I should never be embarrassed to show my work because it might not be “beautiful”. I learned to never underprice my work because “no one would ever want it”. I learned that if a piece speaks to me, there’s a good chance it will speak to at least one other person.
Most importantly, I learned to always have faith in myself. Confidence is key.