The Dark Underbelly

I think we artists don’t talk enough about the emotional cost of putting on a show like In LEGO, We Connect. We tend to focus on the successful press, impressive sales and positive feedback but never talk about the dark underbelly. When you put your entire heart and soul into creating something meaningful out of nothing, there is always a flip side; and trust me, it’s not pretty.

I can only talk about my experience, I am sure whatever Boris and Vesa went through after they returned home was mitigated by the fact that they both immersed themselves in some pretty heavy duty projects; Boris catching up with Darth, Inc. and Vesa on his super secret, super exciting project soon to be announced. Me? I was left to deal with this huge void that can only be created by spending 24/7 worrying, guiding and working towards the opening. To say I was left in a total free fall would be an understatement.

Luckily I had my husband, my good friends Kitty and Gwen and even Boris who were kind enough to listen to me as I alternated between “I’m fine.” and “Today is NOT a good day.” If you have ever planned a wedding or any large scale event you might know what I am talking about. Personally, March was a non-starter, it never happened.

But now we have arrived in  April; today is the last day of the show, and tomorrow I will go to the gallery and retrieve any unsold works for storage. Frankly, I am thrilled to be moving on.

Of course much of this new sense of energy and my newly cleared head comes from finally settling on my next project. When I had mentioned in an early post, “What does success look like?”, I wanted to emphasize that it looks like everything else: Do the work! For me the only part of this whole process that gets me truly, deeply excited and profoundly happy is taking the photographs. Everything else feels like window dressing to prove that I have a job, a career.

I have to ask myself: is the cost too high or does this part of the experience ultimately strengthen me? As the collective explores our next step (because there will be one) I want to remember this month and what I have learned. I need this reminder of the emotional price that will be paid for pushing this project forward; the higher the highs, the lower the lows. I appreciate this blog not only as a means of fostering community and sharing experiences, but as a record of where we started and how far we have come. For me it is an invaluable touchstone.

Recently I have been exploring my earlier posts and I realized that I was a much smarter person when we started. I still have many lessons to learn and even relearn.

So if you are ever lucky enough to put on a public exhibition of your art, make sure you have a good support system in place to pick up the pieces. Because when the hard work is over you will be left with a big empty gaping hole in your life. And trust me when I say, you will need all the support you can get.

~ xxSJC

If you have taken the time to back read this blog what are your favorite posts?

To prove to you I am not completely insane I will reveal that Bryan Ohno called my husband the week of the opening to make sure he would be around to pick up the pieces, so to speak. I am sure Bryan has seen many artists crash and burn emotionally after an important opening. 

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Lyn Miller-Lachmann
7 years ago

Your experience isn’t all that different from someone who has published a book. There are a lot of moments of intense effort before the launch, from the revisions that make one wonder why the editor took the project in the first place to going through copyedits that question everything to the guest blog posts, launch parties, and appearances to make a splash in that all-important first week. And then — nothing. The book lives or dies, and it turns out that all the publicity efforts probably didn’t make much difference at all. Time to write another book and start the… Read more »

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