A few thoughts on things that I'm particularly grateful for this month:
I've been astounded by the generosity of the artist community in my area. I've had the extreme pleasure of meeting some folks who love to share their knowledge and experience. As someone without a formal arts education, I have been fortunate enough to be in conversation with some phenomenal artists and they have encouraged me, shared techniques and tools with me, and given me their time and attention. I have learned this year from some of the best and I am overwhelmed and grateful for that.
Likewise, I'm grateful for the generosity of artists and art lovers on Instagram. In October of this year I held my first ever art fundraiser. I contacted artists, asked them to donate work for a good cause, and started the harrowing work of content creation all in the name of Feeding America. Food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart and so I challenged myself to build community and raise funds in time for Thanksgiving meals to be distributed. The fundraiser lasted one week and included three different ways people could participate—set price pieces, a raffle, and an auction. The outpouring of support from artists who donated and the folks online who wanted to contribute funds was amazing and in the end $435 was raised to help fight hunger in America. I'm proud of what I was able to learn and do and I'm grateful for the the fact that for every $1 donated Feeding America is able to provide 10 meals. That means 4,350 meals were distributed as a result of my online fundraiser!
This year my work showed at four art shows throughout the region. In addition to showing in juried shows such as Graphite Gallery's Intersections show and the Anacortes Arts Festival, I was also honored to be invited to be a part of a group show with a stellar line up. I learned so much from these experiences and I can't wait to see where my art shows in the coming year.
I was awarded the Edwin T. Pratt Scholarship by the Pratt Fine Arts Center! Applying for the scholarship challenged me to compose a project exploring my ethnic identity and how it feels to be a Cuban-American in a predominantly white area. While this is a topic I've written about (and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2021), I've not had the opportunity to examine this using visual arts. I submitted my proposal to create four pieces, each exploring the manipulation of fabric and acrylic painting as a way of articulating the interplay of identities I embody and I was selected! I've begun one of the pieces weaving guayabera shirt fabric and using clay printing techniques I've learned this year and it's been a real joy working with new materials and processes.
As part of my continuing education I've taken classes this year in mixed media collage, dry point etching, clay relief printing, collograph, and experimental painting techniques. These classes have broadened my resources and deepened my artistic toolbox.
There are of course so many other things I'm grateful for this year including the fact that my immediate family remains healthy despite the continued COVID situation swarming all around us. Moreover, I'm grateful for a body that continues to function well inspite of a history of health issues, I'm grateful for food on the table, a warm dog to love on, and friends to laugh with.
If you'd like to start your own list of things you're grateful for or if you're curious about how to incorporate some gratitude practices into your every day, here's an image that might be helpful.