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  • Writer's pictureHeather Hauptman

Now that my art is back home, the anitclimax after my first show is sinking in.

My first show in my first gallery is over. My friends and family who could come, came. And I felt loved. Having my first show near my hometown was more important to me than I realized. People who knew me as a child were there. People hugged me and told me how proud they were of me, were there. I could downplay my pride and say that they were biased. They already loved me. I could hide myself behind that. Dull my shine behind that. It was a certain kind of hiding myself that time taught me, without me knowing I was learning it.

During the opening I tried to be humble and confident. Mustering some authentic version of myself. Quiet while I was talking and loud while I was listening. Standing amongst my loved ones with a gentle smile on my face. Standing between the warmth of their love and all the pain and darkness of my art. I was stepping into the penumbra. Where darkness and light touch and coexist. Maybe it is brave of me to have a show filled with pieces about my broken heart. There was no hiding it. Anyone who saw my show would know that I had suffered a great something. But only if they chose to see it that way. Some didn’t. The only critique I received was that there was no smiling in any of my characters. Which I found perplexing. A smile on any of my characters would feel wrong. Scary even. A smile that was all teeth and sharp edges. Nothing soft or real.

There will come a time when I'll make a joyful character. There will be a time when joy will be bubbling out of me, and onto the page or the textile. But this was not that time. A smile amongst the characters in my show would be a lie. A lie to soften the edges of my pain, just to comfort someone else. Someone who can’t or won't see the world without their rose colored glasses. Pain and peace and joy are useless alone. My first show penumbra, was about pain.

Now that it's over. There is a stillness. A disquieting that leaves me agitated. A melancholy. For a moment the preparation for the show gave me a purpose that was clean and all consuming. I was focused. It felt good to be driving so hard in one direction. Now with my art back in the same spaces they occupied once before, I wonder if they longed to be somewhere else. Maybe they wanted to go out into the world.

They feel alive to me. Much like the toys I had as a child. At night I would apologize to my toys that I couldn’t fit in bed with me. And now I find myself apologizing to my art. I’m sorry I didn’t make room for you to reach someone else. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough to let you go. The time will come, perhaps. The time when they will be called by someone else to be somewhere else. I will try to listen, and be ready to let them go.


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