invited into Art

It felt like a beginning.

I had the chance in my recent visit to Baltimore to attend a celebratory cocktail hour for artistic achievements around the city. It was sponsored by GBCA, and the honorees were recipients of substantial grants that helped get their ambitious projects off the ground. Since Fuller was in class, I went in his place to support his visionary wife Amanda Burnham and her RFP project.

Now, normally at such gatherings, I’m an awkward mess. I feel out of place. I assume I don’t belong. So in this situation, given the amazing talent in the room from these enviable creators, I figured my anxiety would be amplified. I didn’t know anyone except Amanda, I wasn’t from Baltimore, and I wasn’t an artist. How could I relate to these accomplished people? What could we possibly share?

And then, as I settled into the reality of just being there, present for whatever they had to offer, I felt in tune with everyone. This sense of harmony didn’t mitigate my social anxiety, but it let me believe that I was welcome in their company, that reciprocal learning was possible, and that I wasn’t an extraneous element at the gathering.

I’m not sure what enabled this connection. Perhaps it was the way every artist gracefully fumbled (if that’s possible) their way through explaining their projects. Surely they wondered, “how do I reduce this thing that I care so much about, that I’ve put so much of myself into…how do I explain it to anyone? Will anyone understand?” And then, despite the doubt that may have crept into that wonder, they simply shared. Their passion permeated every “um” and “so” and downward glance, and there was a shared understanding in the room that this was a space where vulnerability was not only okay but necessary. Where being fully yourself and doing your best to articulate that self was eagerly desired. And this generous spirit extended to everyone in the room, whether they openly identified as an artist or not.

The feeling of community didn’t stop with this introspection. As I began chatting with people, Amanda introduced me as a writer. My inclination was to balk at the label. “Ha!” was how my mind initially responded. “A writer? What, based on that thing you’re hoping to call a book? Don’t kid yourself.”

But then I did kid myself, and it didn’t feel like kidding.

It felt like a beginning.

1 Comment

  1. dasfuller



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