On Safe Spaces in Artmaking

Now, I roll my eyes as much as the next person to the phrase "safe space", but that's not because I don't believe in their purpose. To give someone who might not have a spot at home or in their town to get away from whatever is going on in their lives is a really beautiful thing. It's mostly because I am a cynic and anytime I've tried to use a "safe space" I always end up at a brand new therapists office. Which totally negates any safety that I may have felt in the first place. Also shouldn't safe spaces be less like offices on college campuses and more dimly lit rooms with bean bag chairs, mediation music, and chimes. (Or is that an opium den?) If it's an opium den, sans opium I think it would be a kick ass safe space. I could get behind that. But those are not the safe spaces that I'm talking about, although the ideals of them are the same. 

The reason I bring this up is because I'm about to go home to my safest space, a small folk festival in Hillsdale NY where I get to spend five days gross, sweaty, muddy, and the happiest I ever will be. There's music, there's food, there's wacky characters that are there every year. It's like coming home. It's also a creative gold mine, with musicians and artists willing to discuss art and process. I have friends there that will be lifelong friends (and I'm going to tag them in this because I am a little bit of a narcissist and would like people to read my blog, BUT I also love them)  It's pretty much a drug that I can only take once a year so I try to soak up as much as possible to bring good spirits through the rest of the year. 

So artistically I look for spaces like Falcon Ridge, rich in culture and creative people, but also rich in places to just sit and do my own thing where people understand "Hey that person looks like they're concentrating on something I'm NOT going to go over and ask them to explain what they're doing." That's a good way to maybe approach your life, yes talk to strangers it makes your life richer, and possibly you might make someone feel less lonely. However if they're sitting there with headphones in painting, writing, reading, maybe don't. 

I digress (it is the struggle of an introvert trying to get people not to discuss their lives with me), the biggest thing that I look for when trying to find a healthy place to make art is support, not necessarily teachers or professors but people who have done it longer or differently than I have. Personally I need a balance, like a 1:3 rule, 1 part discussion with peers and established people, 3 parts leaving me the hell alone so I can do my thing. And for some people it could be 3:1  or 3:3 either direction, but you've gotta find that balance, and part of finding that balance is finding a rich, safe environment where you can create art.

A professor called this place your sacred place (shoutout to Josh for the inspiration for this entry).  So go find your space, be kind to the other people in it, and understand your ratio, because that's going to be essential to making awesome work.

I won't be posting for a couple of days, I will be happily without cell or internet service, but I'm sure I will abandon the premise that this is an art blog and write all about the folk festival when I get back. If I use the word art in it, I can still make the argument for that.