If you did not already know, I have epilepsy. I’ve had my first seizure at age 7, and a handful since then. Thankfully I also have what doctors call “auras” and what I call “de ja vus.” This has been my saving grace when it comes to driving. All this to say, that onSeptember 28, 2015 I attended the Epilepsy Foundation Northwest’s Art Therapy Project. I had no idea what to expect, but I was totally moved by the stories of other epilepsy patients. For about an hour we worked on process-based masks to represent the two side of our experiences; as active citizens and as lonely sufferers. It’s a similar project I did with at-risk-youth students of the Philadelphia Mural Art’s ArtWorks Program in 2009. At that time though we were working through ways of depicting social pressures and internal feelings for teens in West Phili.
At the EFNW Art Therapy ProjectI had a chance to really hear about what other people with epilespy struggle with. I was moved by all the ways in which they have overcome and what they do to stay seizure free! It was amazing. I’m glad to have had the time to attend.
Here is the mask that I made to represent the two-sides of my epilepsy. The dark storm and lighting is the way in which the brain undergoes a complex seizure. It is quite literally a lighting storm in the head! The inside of the mask depicts dragon qualities. I used pine cone parts and a bottle cap to create 3D and 2D scales. I see my seizures as a sleeping dragon. It is when I stack up a couple of the right triggers that the dragon awakes. Sometimes it can take a while to get it back to sleep.
If you or someone you know has seizures, please check out your local Epilepsy Foundation. They are a nationwide network of independent non-profit facilities. They do a lot of outreach, including programs such as the Art Therapy Project I attended on September 28, 2015.
Ever wonder why some artists describe themselves as “Professional Artists”? Or why they seem a little frantic and constantly in motion? It’s because they are truly working their fingers to the bone. Professional Artists, such as myself are defined by working with clients on paid projects under contract. They also spend a fair amount of time developing their own art (whether visual, performing, or literary), and are continuously seeking out new techniques and inspirations.
In contrast to popular assumptions, not all Professional Artists hold degrees. There are millions of artists who are self-taught. They spend years perfecting their own style and/or techniques just like degree-holding artists. Some of these self-taught artists do apprenticeships under an other well established artist or studios in an effort to dive into the art world. And, not all degree-holding artists are Professional Artists. Some just create work for themselves or family and friends.The lines do get blurry, however one thing is clear- Professional Artists work under contract on paid projects.
There is also the distinction of Fine Artist, versus say “hobby artist.” Fine Artists are those who practice gallery-quality creation, such as sculpture, painting, photography and other visual works. Their works are intended to last the test of time, or teach/display to the audience something specific to a concept or theory. I myself am also a Fine Artist. As you’ve seen, I do a lot of studio work that grows into gallery shows and museum shows. It is because of all these practices thatI call myself a “Professional Fine Artist.”
Over the last three years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what the difference is from a “professional” to a “fine” artist. So now the next time you hear someone say “I am a Professional Artist” or “I am a Fine Artist” you will know why!
Click here to see a list of my art accomplishments over the years.