The [Bipolar] Artist’s Statement

I’ve been something of an artist my whole life, but I’ve only recently began taking on the task of seeking funding for big artistic projects.

I look at applying for grants very much like applying for scholarships, because worst-case scenario -you just don’t get any money. There are no further negative consequences (and I’ve grown a hardened skin to rejection long ago) so I don’t feel like I have much to lose by applying.

I’ve also recently (within the last year) been exploring an art-form which is rather unique, so I feel like, if anything, that should probably shift things in my favor, even if just a little bit.

Alternating Chevron Sash, 2011. Wool, 73"x2"x.125"

The technique I’ve been using is somewhat dead, and I think that’s why I like it so much. I’m resurrecting an art-form of the past, something that hasn’t been widely employed in at least 200 years. If nothing else, that just seems plain cool to me.

Yesterday I was working on my “artist resume” (it is something of a list of where one’s artwork has been shown in the past) and I was hitting a little bit of a road block.

This weaving is something I’ve been doing only for about a year and a half. Before that was basketry. And before that was film. And before that was fashion. And before that was painting and drawing and mosaics.

That’s when it hit me. My artistic resume is just a sporadic as my employment resume.

I’ve been told it is common for people with bipolar disorder to jump from job to job (for whatever reason, being fired, stress, etc). and that fact can be somewhat of a trademark of bipolar disorder itself.

As far as employment, well I wont lie… I’ve had  11  12 jobs in the last 5 years. Some of them were overlapping, some of them I left because they were just plain ridiculous, and others, well, something just happens. 

I don’t entirely know how to describe it, but usually it starts with depression. The depression comes on, and the anxiety has got me in a lock, like a boa constrictor. At that point, something usually triggers the final meltdown. Sexual harassment. Being physically threatened by a co-worker. Intense physical illness. -Just to name a few. I’m already so out of sorts that I no longer have the capacity to “deal” with these sorts of stresses at work, so I move on.

My recent conclusion is that this is largely due to working full time. My body and mind don’t seem to know how to operate when I have to dedicate that much time and energy to work, and it becomes just a matter of time before I get worn down enough to become broken by it.

I’d like to be able to work the “normal” amount, I really would, and it is really difficult to have all of that potential income and insurance seemingly denied to me because I’m not capable of working that much right now.

At the same time, I am working 2 days a week (which seems like a much more realistic amount of time for me), so that’s something. At least I’ve moved forward from where I was a year ago.

Anyway, my artist’s resume has a lot of the same qualities, but I guess I never really thought about it before because there was never a “falling out” with any of the mediums or anything, I just lose interest. Or not even lose interest exactly, just get distracted by whatever new, shiny thing I find to do. Heck, in the last few months I’ve also woven my first rug and made my first quilt.

I’m an exploratory person, ok?

I’m like the Captain Picard of arts and crafts, I’m constantly boldly going where I’ve never gone before.

I’m not as familiar with the world of the artist as I am with… well, the normal world, so I don’t know how my resume will compare. Is it usual for artists to try a ton of different mediums, or do they normally find one they like and go to town with it?

I guess I just know that sporadic employment usually works against me while seeking a job, but I’m hoping sporadic artistic endeavors will not be seen in the same light. Strength or weakness? We’ll see.

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4 responses to “The [Bipolar] Artist’s Statement

  1. Good luck! sounds interesting. When I was still in the working world, I was just like you but I wasnt talented or artistic. I was just drifting from one job to another. I would be excited at the beginning and then after so long, soemthing would happen, something would change. I can’t handle change, and I would screw it all up or just be to stressed out to try to go with the flow. My daughter is an artist and has went from fashion, to low brow painting, to crafts, jewelry. She gets bored with one and gets an idea for something different. There are a lot of people like that. are you left handed? I thought maybe it might have something to do with which side of the brain you tend to use. Just a thought.

    • Interesting! I’m right handed (sorry to bust your theory), but both my parents are extremely talented -my father is a musician (and left-handed) and my mother can paint/draw and is capable of making just about anything she sets her mind to. I’m pretty lucky that creativity was passed on to me!

      • I used to be really creative and was planning to be a writer. I put it off to marry, have kids, and then go wild a while after the divorce (gives me stuff to write about lol) But then I had the breakdown and was diagnosed with BP. Then got put on all the meds until it has taken away so much including my creativity. Blogging is helping me try and get back to writing. But it isnt the same yet. But I am goingto try and write my autobiography one day. There is a lot of creativity in my family too, and no one really uses it.

  2. Very interesting… I too have had many jobs and fly by the night hobbies. I still do the hobbies but they are very much a part of my personality, i have to have the energy to complete the 5 tasks started at once.
    Artistic talent is a beautiful thing.

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