Do you have a mentor? An Elder Artist who encourages you and shares words of wisdom?
My friend Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is a Native American artist whose powerful paintings have been awarded and featured and praised internationally for years.
I’d always loved her work, but when I had the opportunity to meet her person, I fell in love with Jaune herself. She speaks the language of artists and encouraged me to grow beyond the paradigm I’d imagined for myself.
Over the years our conversations have continued through email. In a recent exchange, she shared some thoughts that resonated deeply with me. And I wanted to share them with you.
I am honored to introduce you to my friend, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith:
Like so many working artists, I wear many hats.
I’m an independent professor who does visiting artist gigs at colleges and universities. I deliver talks at colleges, universities, art education conferences and museums. I sell images of my work to school textbooks; jury art exhibits; curate Native exhibits; teach non-toxic printmaking workshops at colleges, universities and museums. I have a gallery in New York where I sell paintings. Sometimes I write articles for catalogs or books. I also make prints in different print shops around the U.S.
I am a full time artist and a part time cultural arts worker.
Because art is my drug of choice.
Louise Bourgeois wrote:
Art is not a job.
It is a life.
It is what you do when you get up in the morning.
And what you continue to do all day,
Through headaches and phone calls,
Breakups and breakdowns,
Silences and celebrations,
It is what you keep doing after dark
And when you can’t sleep at night
Louise Bourgeois is saying that artists are born with a gift. And we must pursue our art come hell or high water.
Because art is our drug of choice.
It’s your habit and there are myriad ways of supporting it. But it may not always be through the sale of your art.
You may have to work in a gallery, sell Hondas, tend bar, work in a library, give tango lessons, or photograph weddings.
You might make your art to exhibit, to give as gifts, to use for barter, to trade with other artists and make your own collection of art.
There are successful artists who run a business, keep to a schedule and manufacture art. There are artists who use their art for meditation, and to lead an inspirational lifestyle. Still others help make society better by addressing climate change or animal rights or justice. Whichever we choose, art can make us whole and healthy.
Because art is our drug of choice.
We artists are important to society. Keep in mind that cultures who quit making art are dying cultures. Artists create experiences that inspire people, provide meditation, beauty, and ask important questions. We give people hope whether we sing, paint, or dance.
Artists change and move with the times. We are contributors to society in too many ways to count.
The Creator gave you a gift, preserve it and treasure it. Use it to make the world a better place.
Art can heal.
Let it be your drug of choice.
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation)
To learn more about my friendship with Jaune, click here.
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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections.
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Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com