Sometimes I feel awkward calling myself an artist... like I am posing. Like I am not quite committed enough or established enough to deserve that title. Nevermind that I've been writing short stories and fiction and poetry since I was a child, or that I've been performing my poetry for over a decade.
Sometimes I look at self-proclaimed artists and feel like they just go harder than I do. They look the part. Their friends are all self-proclaimed artists too. They're all deep and stuff, with their meditation and veganism and locs and yoga and their heavy arsenal of quotes from philosophers, poets, prophets and stuff.
But then it's funny because I may squirm when other people identify me as an artist, but the truth is that little light-bulb that turns on when I'm in the company of other creative people or when I'm exposed to some inspiring, beautiful thing--that light-bulb refuses to dim. Even through traumas like grad school and grief, and even when I've tried to focus on other things.
And why should it? After all, "artist" is like "African American" or "lawyer" or "short"--it's just a part of one's identity. And it really applies to anyone who does anything that inspires, enlightens, ignites controversy, sparks dialogue. Often times artists don't even realize that's what they are.
I was recently in the company of some beautiful, creative women who reminded me about what it is to be an artist. They reminded me that we all are artists, in one way or another. Then I remembered this poem I wrote back in law school... here she goes:
I am an artist
I am and art is
A risk to take
a fist to shake at convention
What is art if not the heart blood?
If not the spark plug,
If not the nutrients pulled from the roots of our imagination,
If not self-discovery,
A pointing finger,
Lingering inches from the world’s third eye
Pressing and pushing,
demanding the why’s, how’s, and what’s?
What is art?
Art is what I am
I am an artist
Is art an eye, looking into the inner workings of humanity?
Is it still art if it’s profanity?
S#!t, I don’t know
But why can’t it be?
My alm, my balm, my psalm, my sanity
Cuz art just is and so
an Artist is me
or what I will grow to be