Friday, October 11, 2013

New Mexico: On Being an Artist

Art in Holy Trinity Park, Taos, New Mexico

When I studied for my CELTA in Playa del Carmen three years ago, I participated in a conversation about living somewhere versus visiting somewhere, which I repeat below:
What's the difference between living somewhere and visiting somewhere?
I don't think I'd ever considered the question until the other day, when Paige mentioned to Maria and me that she'd lived in Brazil. For whatever reason, this perked up my ears and I asked how long she'd lived there. She said five months. And I wondered aloud, "How do you decide if you've lived some place"?
Maria and Paige seemed to agree that it is the individual who decides if s/he has "lived" somewhere, although having actually rented a place (versus staying in a hotel) and making that your base also seem to be factors.There may also be a presumed minimum duration of stay. Paige suggested that she is living in Playa. After all, she is staying in one place (as in, she has a base) and renting a condo. The fact that it is only for a month is not the determining factor.
On the surface, this may seem like a pretty esoteric question.

But it's not. It has practical application. For example, don't most of us think and act differently when we live somewhere versus when we visit somewhere? This colors what we see, how we connect with others, what we do every day, how we think about where we are.  
A Thorn Tree thread took up this question recently.

With me being rootless, do I want to think as a resident or as a visitor when I go somewhere new?

Art at Pink Schoolhouse Gallery, Tres Piedras, New Mexico

So it is in New Mexico. If you say you're an artist, then you are an artist.

Indeed, in New Mexico, virtually everyone is an artist. Pick your medium - painting, jewelry-making, pottery making, writing, music, weaving, sculpting, carving, photography  - it's all there.

Art in Mesilla, New Mexico

There is bad art, mediocre art, good art, exceptional art, puzzling art, provocative art, heartbreaking art, and outsider art in New Mexico. Quality isn't the driving force - if you call yourself an artist, then that's what you are.    

Art on Highway 3, New Mexico

Living in New Mexico freed me to identify myself unabashedly as an artist.

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