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My First Juried Art Exhibit





In May I submitted my painting “Cherries” to the Neilson Park Creative Centre for its Impact 2022 Juried Exhibition and earlier this week I received an email from them titled “Congratulations!”

*incoherent screaming*

I wanted to write this down as soon as I could (despite having SO MUCH to do - A.K.A. preparing for my first outdoor art market on Sunday) because I want to celebrate this little moment of bliss and success.

The fun mental bit for myself is how I'm automatically framing this as: “When I’m successful, I’ll want to be able to look back on my lowest lows and highest highs and see everything that came together to get me to where I am.”

I'm really proud of that "when" not "if" statement. Because it takes guts to speak with surety about the future.

So! My work. A piece I spent nearly 80 hours on, a piece that’s purely from my heart and soul and bones. Was one of 80 artworks, out of 222, selected to be exhibited from July 19th to August 5th 2022 at the Art Space Connect and Parkview Galleries at Neilson Park Creative Centre. On July 21st there’s a reception and awards night where the winners are announced, I could be one of them! But truly, regardless of that, just being included in the exhibition is winning enough for me.

I'm ecstatic.

I read that email and got tingles all down my body, my arm hair stood on end, I covered my mouth with my hand and felt tears prickle in my eyes. My heart was fluttering, I held in a scream and a weird bubble of shock, amazement and gratitude escaped. My dog looked at me with concern. I was suddenly awash in a brief, yet immense moment of relief. Is this what gaining momentum feels like? Like hitting a tiny, flat stretch on a long, steep hike.

Then I had happy, relieved, grateful tears rolling down my cheeks. I called my partner, Sheldon, he couldn’t answer, so then I called and shared the news with my mom, and some friends before Sheldon called back and I burst into tears.

“Are you crying?” He asked.

“Yes,” I laughed, covering my face and sobbing. “I’m just so relieved and happy.”

“Happy tears don’t make sense to me,” Sheldon laughed but congratulated me.

I snapped a photo of myself after, as I was sitting and still processing the complex mishmash of feelings roiling inside me. I wanted to memorialize my face in that moment: puffy, tired eyes, messy hair, no makeup, tear tracks running down my cheeks, working through my to-do list for art show prep and holding at bay all the little, and big, anxieties that come from asking my art to feed me and pay rent too.

This is a small win out of many I hope to have, but it feels monumental, it feels transformational, it feels like I’ve been taking little, anxious sips of air for months, years maybe, and I just sucked in a semi-full breath. Getting into a juried show, or having a space at an art market, or being selected for a gallery opening isn't the golden ticket or immediate catapult to the success I want for myself, but it’s step in the right direction. All these baby steps equate to the life I’m holding in my mind’s eye for myself.

And I am gratified.

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