While I don’t hate Christmas as much as I did when I was in retail, I still find myself feeling pretty bitter about the paradox between “goodwill to men” and commercialism. A few years ago I made the commitment to either buy local and small, or purchase items that gave back to a charity. This year, I hardly had the ambition to do either.
My husband and I decorated for Christmas the day we got back from the family Thanksgiving in Chicago. We were exhausted. Still, I felt like if I didn’t do it then it would never get done. So we put up 3 little trees: 1 in the living room, one in our bedroom, and one in my husbands man cave in the basement. We called it a day and had a glass of wine, and since then I feel like we called it a day on Christmas altogether.
So now it’s near and we don’t have much to show for it. I managed to make some small gifts for everyone. Jewelry for all the ladies and a block print I carved and printed myself depicting a Chinese lantern plant. My husband, love of my life and eager to contribute, purchased frames for the prints to protect them as well as to make them ready to immediately put up on the wall. That way it could come from both of us.
Of course, whenever I make a gift of art work I go through the same kind of agony that most self critical artists go through. I worry someone won’t appreciate it. I worry it’ll get put in a closet, the trash…or worse…hung in a bathroom.
That is the struggle of being an artist. Not being appreciated. Honestly, people are allowed not to like a work. That I don’t mind. Art is subjective. It’s when people can’t take time to appreciate the effort put into the making of the art that bothers me. You can choose not to like the end result, but if you don’t at least appreciate that it was made by whatever means and someone took the time out of their busy life to put effort and emotion and literally paid moments of their life they’ll never get back to make it, then can you really call yourself an appreciator of the arts?
However, artists do appreciate the acceptance of their work and talent. So I can’t say that I don’t care if my art isn’t liked. I do. Because it does affirm and encourage me to keep making more art. Not that critique doesn’t, but affirmation, while not required, feels nice every once in a while.
In conclusion: Support art. Support artists. Give art as gifts for Christmas.