aisling's Artfest 2001 journal

More Excerpts from Aisling's Artfest 2001 Journal:

8 Apr 01 - morning

For me, Artfest was a profound, affirming, and life-changing experience. It was a nurturing environment in which creativity was exercised and valued.

We skimped on sleep and sometimes cut our mealtimes short, in favor of extra time for our art--making art, learning techniques, and viewing others' creative genius.

Originality was the norm. Workshops that started "by the numbers" soon soared in extraordinary directions, powered by individual creative visions.

But mostly, I think most of us were reminded that our art isn't merely valid, it's vital for us as artists--and for the society in which we live.

8 Apr 01 - after lunch

It's been too brief, but I'm reluctant to admit that I'm also ready to go home and let this settle in -- and WORK!

I've realized that most of my life I try to define who I am by the people around me--people I'm very different from.

At Artfest, I'm suddenly surrounded by people who are very like me, and on one hand this affirms my identity as an artist. It helps me understand and define myself and my forms of expression, being among supportive people--mostly women--who seem to paint themselves and their environment with a broadly creative brush.

On the other hand, we're not entirely alike and I try to remember that we are called to art to express something, perhaps to the world but mostly to ourselves. To manifest something which seems important to us as individuals--a fleeting expression or an eternal message. And, for some, communicating pain, anger, frustration or rage is part of the healing, artistic process.

There's another aspect of being immersed briefly in this precious and nurturing group of talented and creative artists. I am almost afraid to express myself too loudly, because I fear alienating this new-found cherished group.

By Sunday lunch, discussions had expanded past art and careers, to--in some cases--religious and political issues.

For me, this feels like treading in dangerous waters. Like my art, the rest of my life tends to be a bit renegade and non-conformist. I'm not as comfortable with this as I probably should be.

It's a big step and a treasured one, to find myself surrounded by like-minded women and men. Finally being "just like" nearly everyone around me... It's a precious experience that I want to capture, hold, caress, and release only when it becomes impossible to do otherwise.

And so I pack my bags knowing that this is merely the beginning of a deeply important process as an individual, as an artist, and also as part of a bond to many others who were at Artfest and briefly shared this extraordinary time of growth, learning, expression, and new-found awareness.

I go home more confident of my identity as an artist. The importance of the creative message was affirmed in every moment of Artfest.

I leave behind an amazing, static moment of connection to the power of shared commitment to creativity.

I take home the shared vision and empowerment that Artfest generated, communally and individually.

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