What does it mean to live a life with art at its center? This question comes from a remarkable retrospective of the abstract painter Joan Mitchell’s work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Katy Siegel, co-curator of the exhibition, describes Mitchell as “a woman who managed to make art the center of her life and refused to let anyone tell her what being a woman meant.”
In order to create a full life with art at its center, Mitchell needed to expand the center itself. She incorporated into her art many different sources of inspiration: poetry, music, landscape, urban environments, her natural surroundings, as well as the influence of the iconic painters Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Matisse. She expanded the center by deepening the purpose of her art, demonstrating how painting could simultaneously express physical experience and complex emotions.
To live with art at the center of your life takes courage and passion and confidence. In order to make your art center larger, you may have to experiment, to take more risks with your work. If putting art at the center means claiming a larger place in the art world, reach out to mentors for feedback and advice. Build your community of supporters so that you have the confidence to grow.
To make art the center of your life you might also have to shift the center. Mitchell needed to move to France in order to free herself from the limitations of the New York art world. Shifting the center may also mean rethinking your own purpose, your media and materials. You may decide to combine the different parts of your art practice, or explore entirely new directions.
What steps can you take now to put art at the center of your life?
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.