for love or money or both?

painting by Carmen Herrera

Never have I considered the possibility of being able to make a living from my art. Truth be told, I still can not grasp that idea. People who are able to do that are amazing to me- or they have big trust funds- either/or, it seems far from my reach. Despite these feelings, I have been contemplating ways to make it happen for myself. I know that I am in love with what I do- and have been since I was 14 years old- and yet the concept of having a career as an artist is overwhelming to me. I know that in order to attempt it, you have to put yourself out in the world in the most vulnerable way possible. Sure, I am as stubborn as it gets but rejection is scary. And maybe that is just it- making a living in the arts but not through my art is safe. I get to be around what I love but I do not have to risk so much in order to do it.

Being part of the NYFA MARK program I am starting to learn about different strategies to succeeding as an artist. First, of course, you have to determine what success is for you. Harder question than you might realize. I ask myself it and I come up with a different answer every time. So many definitions of success run through my head: Being happy-supporting myself-getting gallery representation-exhibiting often-having a lot of studio time-etc....

I found out about the amazing story of Carmen Herrera through the reading material given to me through this program. She is one of those rare examples of someone whose passion for art finally paid off with "success". Not until she was in her 90's were her paintings "discovered" by the art world. Because the art world often focuses on the trends rather than art as a whole- her work did not find its relevance until recently (you can see one of her images above). She was supported by her husband for most of her life and was able to be a studio artist because as she put it, "she had to".

This story is almost too romantic for my taste, but i am inspired. Mostly, I am happy for Carmen who deserves to be recognized in this way.

You can view the NY Times picture slide show here.

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