Jo Israelson


“To be an artist is to trust”

To Be An Artist Is To Trust

Trust in oneself.

When the unconscious speaks, I listen with trepidation. For when it talks, I will have to respond. Sometimes the message comes in the form of a dream. It might be the remains of a disturbing image that lurks beneath my eyelids when I awake. Sometimes it is a missive disguised as a poem or song fragment. Other times, there is only an inkling, an itch, a sense of an unfinished moment that runs rampant throughout the day. I know it is time to go inside myself. And then, I proceed.

Trust in the materials.

There is a never ending array of material from which to chose: charcoal, pen, pencil, pastel, paints, paper, clay, plaster, metal, film, natural items, found items, digitized images. Sometimes I am fooled by my need to hurry and do not choose wisely. Sometimes I grab the nearest item. And then my hand rejects it. Eventually, the material decides for me. When I pay close attention, to the feel, the heft, the mark of each, the right ones appear. And then, I continue.

Trust in the process.

To be an artist is to trust in a deep and profound way in the process of creation. I must be willing to discard the work that does not feel complete. I must be willing to disregard first attempts. I must be willing to be gentle and not berate myself. I must be able to persevere in the path of disappointment or to revel in the exaltation of achievement. I must believe the process is the meaning, not the product. And then, I work.

Trust in the viewer.

When it is time to share the work, I must trust in the viewer. I must believe that he or she will approach my work with respect and curiosity. I must realize that viewers bring their life experiences to the work. They arrive with knowledge and emotions. They take whatever time they require to discern meaning. They take from the piece what they are able to and what they need. I have no influence or power. And then, I rest.

To be an artist is to trust.