A week ago, I was hanging out with, what seemed like, several hundred other amazing individuals at the Old Orchard Gallery in Webster Groves, MO for the monthly 33 show put on by MySLArt.org, 33January. I’ve been multiple times, but this event was different. It was special because for the first time, I was one of the 33 artists showing work in the gallery. In fact, this was the first time since my Senior Show when I graduated from Anderson University that I have shown any work publicly.
It was an amazing night filled with conversations, laughter, and many friendships. I was even blessed by the presence of several individuals that I serve with in the ERT who dropped by throughout the night.
I enjoyed the night, watching people in the room respond to the art around them. Many pieces were extremely beautiful! Oh, there were some amazing pieces that surrounded us. If I had the money, I would have bought several.
What made me smile was watching people come across my art. It was around a corner, so you couldn’t see it unless you came around the wall. Most people were moving semi-clockwise around the room, and the two artists before my work had some amazing photography. There were quite a few people who noticed my paintings and quickly took a step back.
You can tell by people’s initial reaction that my paintings were not what was expected. I never meant them to be.
You see, my art is a reflection of myself. An avenue of expression that reveals the truth beneath the surface. Two of my paintings were self portraits that expressed the struggle with the darkness that we keep hidden from the world. My darkness is expressed through my art, an avenue of healthy release for the stress, frustrations, and fears that I keep hidden away from the world.
I stood by my work for part of the night and had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman about how once that darkness we keep within ourselves is set free, there is no way to hide it once again. He told me how his darkness came out in the war and that almost cost him his marriage. He smiled as he sighed, stating “But if felt so good.” He walked off, hand in hand with his wife.
His words are true. The darkness that we keep within ourselves has the potential to ruin us, to kill us, and leave us broken. But when we release it, it feels so good. It feels good to get it out into the open. To set it free. To no longer have it hidden within us.
It was a great night in the gallery, but there is a single moment that made it so awesome: As I walked in, I overheard a mother ask her young daughter (probably around 7 years of age), “What piece is your favorite?” For the next several minutes the little girl circled around the gallery. She stopped in front of my paintings, pointing up at Our Holy Mother, and stated matter of factly, “This one.”
The look of shock on the mothers face was priceless!
Out of all the art in the gallery (somewhere around 80-90 pieces), she chose one of my paintings. That was the best compliment I received the entire night.