Trying It Out

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Twyla Tharp

My first try at oil pastels!

A friend and I recently had a conversation that wandered to the topic of how younger women dress. We wondered out loud, “What does it mean if they are dressed provocatively? Does it mean they want attention? That they want to be looked at?” (Of course, we asked with curiosity, not condemnation.)

I tried to remember back to my own time in college. What did I wear, and why? What was I thinking when I dressed each morning? After all, from what I recall, my outfits could range from worn-out jeans and a tee to skirts, blouses, and blazers. The jeans might be tight; they might be loose. The skirt could be any length. Surely everyone around me, including me, was confused about what I was doing and who I was.

And you know what? That’s ok. That’s what you do at that age–try out roles, identities, and personalities. (Some of us do it with more than clothes!) How else can we decide, as women, if we are comfortable being looked at? How else will we know if we would rather others make assumptions about us based on the careless or meticulous way we present ourselves? All we are doing is trying something on to decide if we like it enough to keep it. There’s no right or wrong answer.

I realize I still do this today, but with art. Sometimes I’m working on a gesso panel with acrylic paint, sometimes I am creating a collage in a journal, sometimes I’m relaxing with a pencil and a sketchbook. Maybe the results are something cute, or not. I wonder if I should be more consistent–pick one thing and get good at it–but now I realize that it’s all ok. I’m trying different things to learn what I like, and I might like them all. It’s fun. And a fun discovery–whether about art or about myself–is the whole idea.

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