Artists in Love

Do you remember the first time that you fell in love with art? CarrieMaeWeems

I do.

I was just registering for college, trying to find who and what I wanted to become. Totally lost, I registered as a pre-law student.

Me. Can you imagine?

But then everything changed.

I was visiting friends in LA who took me to the Getty Museum to see the Monet exhibition. As we walked toward the show, we passed through a smaller exhibition space.

It was darkened and mysterious. The images on the wall showed historical 19th century photographs of African slaves and included text that spoke to the heart of their pain.

The exhibition was called “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.”

The artist was Carrie Mae Weems.

I was riveted. I don’t even know if I ever made it to Monet, so bowled over by this powerful work. I remember that I cried from the raw beauty and tender response that Weems created.

Suddenly, I knew that I wanted to be an artist.

Fast forward several years later. I got that art degree but I’d put my dreams of being an artist on hold. Instead, I became the director of a prestigious art studio where I collaborated with world-recognized artists. It was a dream job, I could work with any artist I wanted to.

I wanted to work with Carrie Mae Weems.

I made the invitation and to my delight, she accepted. I got to work with my art hero and she didn’t disappoint. She made me laugh. She made me think. She stunned me with the depth of her brilliance.

I spent many days working closely with Carrie on a lithograph I’m incredibly proud of.

A self-portrait, it speaks through the voice of black women, so long invisible in art history:

It was clear
I was not Manet’s type
Picasso – who had a way 
with women – only used me
& Duchamp never even considered me

Fast forward again to the recent past. I was in London visiting the Tate Modern. I wandered through its wide halls and winding galleries as I considered the changes I wanted to make in my life.

I was finally ready to step fully into the role of artist. But what did that mean? What would I say? Where was the spark that wanted to ignite? I was full of doubts and fear.

But then everything changed.

I turned into a small dark gallery and gasped. It was that same Carrie Mae Weems show I had seen at the Getty Museum all those years ago: “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.”

And I did cry.

What a generous gift The Universe gave me that day. A touchstone to the very work that set me off on this journey. I could now see my new way forward. I am an artist.

When was the first time you fell in love with art?


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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

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