I’d like to share with you a pivotal moment in my career as an artist.
In 1998 I was in Cortona, Italy for the summer with my family, working as the librarian for the University of Georgia School of Art’’s study abroad program. I was an artist myself, but didn’t believe I could realize my artistic potential while raising a family and pursuing my career as a librarian.
Working with the art students, many of whom were work-study students for the library, gave me the opportunity to get to know and bond with many of them. Although I was admittedly a little envious that I wasn’t able to study abroad myself when I was in art school, I admired their hunger to learn and to grow. I also came to know the art professors and attended their lectures describing their careers, artistic endeavors, styles, and works-in-progress.
That summer was the source of one of my most important personal insights. For it was then I first realized that the artists who surrounded me were really no different from me, no better than I was. We were equals, artists in community. In other words, I saw for the first time,
I WAS A REAL ARTIST, TOO.
That recognition changed my life. At the end of the summer I returned home and took action. I worked hard and started being not shy about pursuing my art, acknowledging my determination, and honing my ability to share and talk about my artwork. Now, I had a vision.
You may have heard this part of the story before:
In 1998 I embarked on a 10-year plan (which ultimately took 12) to launch my career as a full-time artist once I retired from my job at UGA. I would no longer sit quietly and wait for life to happen to me. In those dozen years, I had 24 solo shows, participated in 83 group shows, won 6 awards, and created 5 large-scale installations.
This past year I realized that year 10 as a full-time artist was quickly approaching, and I knew that was a magical number. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was going to be exciting!
Fast forward to 2019. Last week I attended a program at the Pompidou Center in Paris for the exhibition opening of “Cosmopolis #2” because one of my creations is on exhibit there! I was immensely excited, pleased, and proud. The dress I designed, painted, dyed, sewed, and styled is just a small part of one installation; although the exhibit was not mine and my name was not on the program, I was able to take part knowing that my art was in a MAJOR world museum. As I listened to the artists present their Cosmopolis #2 work in front of windows that looked out on the bustling Parisian life, with the citizens and architecture of Paris as a backdrop, I knew in my very bones that
I COULD DO THAT.
I COULD BE SITTING IN THAT CHAIR
BEHIND THAT MICROPHONE
IN FRONT OF THAT ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE
AT THE POMPIDOU CENTER
YES, I COULD.
Seeing my dream take shape before my very eyes, I know success is on the way, speeding towards me like a French locomotive, driven by determination and belief in myself.
Many thanks to Christina Chirouze Montenegro, who made it happen. Here she is, above, modeling the dress when I first presented it to her.
We all have fears to face and obstacles to overcome. It’s hard when you have a vision and don’t know where to start. But I am happy to report that a motto I have believed in for many years has served me well:
Thank you, as always, for your time and your gracious support, and for following me on this adventure called life.
Simón Vega. Archipiélago de Intercambio (sketch), 2019
Save the Dates
Until December 23, 2019
Cosmopolis #2: Rethinking the Human
Floral Heritage of Guatemala
La Caféotheque de Paris
Silk Works by René Shoemaker
Galerie des Marches
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