It is my experience this year that I have not been taken seriously by my peers. I admittedly am a “free spirited” person and I feel as though I often get smacked with the “reed is the crazy friend” label. I feel like the accessory friend. I am happy to take this label most of the time, because I seek fulfillment in myself and my solitary time, but when it really frustrates me is when it turns into people not taking me seriously as an artist. Just because I throw myself into strange situations with what others perceive as “childlike excitement” does not mean that I do not put careful consideration into my work. This instinct does not come from some child-like naivety, but rather it is the strategy I adopted to keep the hardship I have been through from hardening me. I think my happy-go-lucky attitude has more to do with my experience as a victim of violence than something about immaturity or a bohemian lifestyle. Yes I can be irrational. Yes I take walks at 4 in the morning, climb trees and talk to strangers. Yes I jump in fountains. Yes I cry at weird things sometimes because I get over-emotional about colors, shapes and smells. But I do these things because I have not had happiness and calm handed to me, I have had to seek it out. I live my life this way because it works for me. It makes me happy. A different lifestyle does not equate “lesser”, “novelty” or “immature”. I maintain my responsibilities, reach my personal goals and keep myself healthy.
I am creating complex work focused on examining myself, why I behave the way I do and looking at my trauma through the lens of historical methods for healing. I have interests, visions, influences like everybody else. I am not some isolated character for comic relief from your favorite Tv series. I am not you 2-dimensional manic pixie dream girl. I am not your accessory or your supplier of stories to tell others that begin with “oh my god one time my friend..” Yes I like to run free, to laugh, to smile and goof off… but I take my process of running free very seriously. I am not a person lacking direction, I am a person who has already found what works for them, what keeps them healthiest and most productive.
I have been creating work that I am passionate about, challenging my normal mediums, asking myself hard questions and pushing the boundaries and expectations of assignments and myself (as people in my classes know… but most people in my classes are upperclassmen right now). I have been doing a large amount of work for local companies and organizations. I will be taking over as president of Poetry Alliance in the fall and have been lobbying for new and improved resources on and off the massart campus regarding sexual assault and harassment. And this all shouldn’t matter because I do this all for myself, not for anybody else. Where this starts to bother me is when people approach me with the attitude that I am not serious or legitimate, as if I am simply the cartoonized version of a “quirky girl” instead of a real art student/artist/human who deserves respect. I am doing big things, and even if I was not I should not be patronized and belittled because I act differently. Instead of rolling your eyes and laughing, saying things like “oh crazy reed”, lets swap differences and learn from each other. Reactions like that make me feel like you see me as a pet who just learned a new trick… and you are amused but dismissive of any real contributions I have to make.
a poem from last week