I was recently asked to speak on a panel of artists about how we navigate this transition and look forward to what is next. At the end I was asked for my final recommendations for artists through this time. I gave an answer because that’s what you do when you’re on a panel, but I don’t have a recipe. What I do have is my experience and an imagination, the ability to dream, a vision of what I want. N. Scott Momaday once said that “We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.” I fall back on this quote often, and the only advice I can realistically give to other creatives is to lean into this transition and its ability to be a tool that helps us think deeply about what we want from life. Rather than focusing on doors that have been shut, look for what gives you life and light right now, and feed that, open those doors, explore the depths of your imagination.
I’ve been working for years to build a brand that represented love and connection, and had focused my attention on moving away from our production jewelry that sells for $40-$200 and was pouring energy into higher end art pieces and custom engagement rings. Then, Covid hit and in an effort to help the creative community in Tulsa deal with the impact through a fundraiser I inadvertently created huge demand for the copper cuffs we make, which you guessed it, are exactly what I thought I was moving away from. But it’s what has sustained me through this time when all my shows are canceled and people are hesitant to spend a lot on luxury goods like jewelry. I don’t think that opportunity would have arisen had I not been envisioning myself as a leader of something larger than me even though my brand continues to be 90% just me, doing everything. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the imagination of who we are lays the blueprint for what we can become. This seems like a very good moment in time for us to all be laying that blueprint down, imagining exactly what it is we want our society to look like. One of the things I said during that panel discussion was that it’s a good time to drain the dirty bathwater. I don’t think very many people caught it or knew what I meant, but I think many of us have been going through life trying to conform to a system that doesn’t fit us right and now is as good a time as ever to start building the systems that do fit your life right. At the very least, map out their blueprint.