By Carla Aaron-Lopez
kingCARLA writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her first post was Notes from kingCARLA.
Ever heard the saying: You get a lot of NO’s before you get to YES?
I hate it. Drives me insane. Especially when I get turned down for exhibitions when I know my shit is tight. But alas, life moves on… because it has to. Doesn’t it?
Recently, I introduced myself to Charlotte, NC to a small crowd of people that I knew and people that I didn’t know. I’m quite into creating my version of Southern culture therefore I served everyone cherry moonshine. By the end of the night, people were happily drunk and into the works that I put on the wall. Now that that night is over, I find myself back in the mundane motions of an everyday routine. And today in email form about a juried exhibition in DC, I received my last no. Like, seriously folks, the shit is really beginning to piss me off so bad that I don’t know what my next move is but when I get there I’ll let you know what I did.
As an emerging artist that is trying to take my professional life seriously, I’m working through these issues all artists have. Some of us will be able to get over them. Sadly, most do not. If I continue to have a temper tantrum or fall into depression every time I get a no then I’m not really living my artist life to the fullest. Therefore, when things like this show up… I review my resume.
Because I can remind myself of all the work I’ve put in over the past 10 years as an artist and to see where I would like to be for the next 10 years. Life steadily evolves without our permission. If I spend all my time concentrating on the bad/negative/upsetting parts I will miss my opportunity to shine. And that moment is coming up soon in the form of a panel discussion at Georgia State University on blackness as aesthetics. Bruh. I know that shit so well for the weird negros, white folks and people of color in America. I’ve chosen that event at this moment to be that professional artist I see myself as when no one is around. That campy motherfucker with a Southern twang dropping sweetly ignorant yet highly intelligent verbals from her mouth. A modern day Zora Neale Hurston.
My fantasies. They’re huge. Tengo grandes cojones… metaphorically speaking.
Back to the resume review.
In order to play the character I’ve created, I need to review what I’ve done and what it means to me. I think that from there I’ll be able to have a stronger basis for my aspirations as an artist and begin boiling down who my audience is. And I know my audience is small. I believe them to be a perverse group of humans that are rather bored with mediocrity and normalcy of American culture. They hate what’s perfect and enjoy the seedy underbelly of popular culture. It’s dangerous grounds to lurk in those spaces but to an outcast (or marginalized person) it is home and peaceful. For years, I’ve created works that attract this group of people. That is, within reason because the rabbit hole of human oddities runs very deep and very scary. I’m fascinated by the relationship of what’s considered normal in societies and what’s marginalized in terms of the human experience.
Maybe that’s why I get so many no’s. I’m black woman but don’t really care to produce works again and again on the gaze/masculinity of white and black men. I’d rather empower a bitch and keep it moving but don’t call me a fucking feminist. And because I’m black, I’m bored with the constantly reproduced slave narratives. The content needs to be really fucking fascinating or else I forget about it. I know my history very well therefore I seek to produce works that challenge the new contemporary ways in which racial/sexual contracts are upheld in American culture. Now, that shit can go somewhere over hill and into outer space. Maybe I need to be a male artist.
Maybe then I’ll get noticed.
Nope. Fuck that.
I know my day will come when I stop getting Wangechi Mutu references. Until then, fuck these no’s. I’ve got more exhibitions to apply to, a new body of work to establish, a panel discussion to prepare for and a baby boy to raise in America.
I ain’t got the time to be in my feelings over a damn no.
And neither should you.
Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez
woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.