This print was taken from a 1960s baby shower at the Homer United Methodist Church. These were the hostesses, family friends who could always be counted on to spray their hair, polish up their cat-eye glasses and punch bowls, and run the show.
Many, many years after this, I hosted my first shower for my own expectant friend, in the same church fellowship hall where these ladies stand. I remember standing in the church breezeway, cutting gladiola stems, wondering if we had enough tablecloths and feeling a connection to the community of “aunties” who I had seen do the same things over the years. I’m proud to come from a community where it is second nature to show up and celebrate people.
In rural East Texas, your first best friends are your cousins and your neighbors. And often, your cousin IS your neighbor! In my case, my cousin spent lots of time visiting my grandmother, who lived just one stop sign and few houses away. So, almost a neighbor. I’m an only child, and people often ask “Weren’t you lonely growing up?” Because of my cousin and my neighbor, I really can’t relate to that question. How could I be lonely when one bestie lived at the far end of my driveway and the other was conveniently at all family functions? Plus, they’re older than me by a few years, so I don’t know what it’s like not to have friends like them. An upside to being related to and living next door to your best friends is that they’re stuck with you for life. Lucky them! And lucky, lucky me.
For generations of my family in East Texas, life centered around Homer United Methodist Church. It functioned (and still does) as part house of worship, part community hub. Sunday services were of equal importance to potluck suppers, holiday events, and youth group get-togethers as well as volleyball games, dances and other non-religious activities. Regardless of how religious you were or weren’t, whether you were a member or a prospective member, or just there to fellowship – ours was a church that just got everyone together for a good time. It was all part of God’s work.
Those good times bound our community through generations. This print is taken from a photo taken outside the first church building in 1961. In the source photo is my mom and a few of her best friends. She still sees many of them every few weeks at least, and not necessarily at church. Many of my friends and I have the same kind of relationships, which were also cultivated through the church but exist outside its walls. We genuinely liked, and still like each other.
The church sits where the Homer “town square” used to be. So, it has a legacy in East Texas history as a place of excitement and energy. The church seen here was replaced with a more modern building in the later 60s, which is still there. My family lived a few doors down from the church, within walking distance. Or, when I was learning to drive, within driving the riding lawnmower distance!
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton , No Man Is an Island
It’s Monday in “Studio No-Name,” and I’m still thinking on what to call my creative space. It won’t be Studio No-Name!
The process of naming my studio makes me think of the saying, “you must name it to claim it.” I have struggled with “claiming” my identity as an artist over the years, for all the reasons that many people do. I’m not conventionally educated. It’s not my primary income. I’m just not “there yet.” It doesn’t feel like “work”. But art is art and artists are artists. I think it’s important to take steps to legitimize the work that we do, whether our pieces are hung in galleries, displayed proudly at Mom’s house or decorating our own spaces. I’m trying to be better at claiming my practice, and so should you! (Even if we’ve never met, if you’re an artist, I suspect that you can relate to this.)
With that in mind, earlier today, I renewed my Texas Visual Arts Association membership and made a spreadsheet for places to submit work to in the next few months. This isn’t something I have done before, and I’m excited to try! It’s not an easy season of life to be an artist, especially an emerging artist, but opportunities are still there.
I have started a series of work that will be ready for sale in October. I closed my store at the beginning of the year, but I miss having it as a goal to work toward. The sales are nice, of course, but so is the self-directed goal of making enough work to post.
Because my Pine Curtain project is so specific, those pieces won’t be for sale, at least not right away. So, that frees my mind to switch to different subject matter and processes for a while. The above abstract floral is one of a few smaller works on paper that will be available, and I am also working, for the first time, on some larger pieces!