Thursday, June 20, 2013

Take 5 With Kylin Jewell

We get back into our Take 5 series with Kylin Jewell, a multi-talented and multi-passionate artist who's come to some pretty significant realizations in her life post- art school. Check it out! 

Name: Kylin Jewell

Creative Specialties:
Drawing, painting, dancing (ballet, jazz, modern) aerial silks, yoga… being up-side-down, hula-hooping, jewelry making, hair/ makeup, modeling, sewing and costume design, basic wood and metal-working, teaching any of these activities…

Current Location: 
Tucson, AZ

Mini Bio:
Kylin Jewell’s art is documentation of the processes she employs to uncover the relationship between emotion and emotive content. To one degree or another her work has always revolved around a central idea of feeling held captive by our own thoughts, actions, and the ‘inner realities’– or the escape to sublime states of being after the process of letting go, meditating, and allowing for a more spiritual connection. In a sense, her ultimate goal in creating is to tap into the universal experience of feeling.

Kylin was born in 1986 in Tucson, Arizona where she has spent 26 years improving on and perfecting her passion. In 2005 she graduated from Tucson High Magnet School with a performing arts endorsement and was credited for her AP 2-D portfolio. In May of 2010 she received a BA in 2-D design with an emphasis in painting from the University of Arizona. In August she will leave behind her desert home for life in the city of Chicago. Here, she will delve further in her interest in the ‘inner-self’ and begin her career in Art Therapy.

Currently, some of my artwork can be seen through my Facebook page. In the fall, I will have a website running through SAIC.

5 realizations I had that changed my life and the way I define myself as an artist:

1) If money was no object, what would you make?

I think it’s important to remember that we are all creative beings. Some of us don’t tap into it, or have little faith in our artistic ability and thusly do not nourish the imaginative spirit. Many have ways of being creative that aren’t in our traditional definition of the term so they don’t recognize their potential.

That’s why I have chosen to introduce myself with my dreams…

This is why I (we) create. Because we are able to dream.

If I had all of the financial resources imaginable, and could employ a crew of any number, I would make… SO MANY THINGS!!!

First and foremost, I would knock out the brilliant interactive idea my significant other and myself proposed to the Burning Man grant committee this year. It is a large-scale, multi-medium, interactive, two-phase sculpture with fire elements.

It would be nice not to feel limited in terms of resources for completing more paintings and drawings, but my interest in art has developed into something that goes beyond satisfying an internal need to make something that is both aesthetically pleasing and healing for myself anymore.
I want to, and will - after two years at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master’s in Art Therapy program starting this Fall! – be in the position to help others find their voice and discover healing through art making. As made obvious by the career I am pursuing, I am more interested in being a first-hand witness to the emotional response to a project and getting the audience involved in the creative process than I am in fulfilling documentation of the images and designs constantly swirling through my mind. I want to know how opening a conversation about art, through the act of creation, can not only bring people together but can also help individuals work through any dis-ease in their lives. I trust in my creativity to bring joy into my own life.
I suppose I am just curious to know if my beliefs can be supported. If art making affects the minds and hearts of all beings in the same manner, and, if it does, I would like to uncover its potential for emotional/ psychological rebuilding in all beings.

In a magical world with no financial limitation I would travel with sculptures like the one we plan to bring to Black Rock City someday. I would research the reaction and interaction of art, people, music, etc. and project that I would find my hypothesis to be supported by my findings.

2) How do you remain positive and hopeful when either the ideas stop flowing, the work dries up, or the money stops coming in?

I really try to be an optimistic person but I must admit, I went through a dry-spell for nearly a year after I received my Bachelor’s in Studio Art.

At the time, I was ashamed and extremely disappointed in myself.

I am supposed to be a painter!
I am supposed to be selling my work!
I am supposed to… 

I am sure you are all familiar with a similar internal mantra, no?

But the fact of the matter was that I was uninspired, unmotivated, and painfully unsure of my next step. I needed a job but knew that selling my work was going to take more energy and devotion than I felt like I had at that point in time.

In fact, over the past couple years since graduating I have come to realize how little interest I have in selling my work at all! (More on this later.)

Luckily, I was not relying on my artwork before graduating as a means of income so not having that resource post-degree didn’t make much of a difference to me.

Just when I needed it most, I was given the opportunity to teach art to elementary school aged children. It got my creative juices flowing again because I had to train my mind to think about making art in a way I hadn’t in my entire life. For so long it had just flowed, and now I had to inspire students – some who didn’t have the same innate interest for mark-making, color, shape and light as I had as a child. More so, I had to inspire myself! My livelihood depended upon it!

I was forced into a new state of mind that wasn’t so concerned about the final product of what I drew or the concept behind it. I had been given a time-machine into the most creative sources on Earth – something that got lost along the way with all the schooling and the aging – the mind of a child!

Yes, my classes were about learning how to draw a certain objects and how to best use the mediums chosen for each project, but it became something so much more than that – we were playing! Creating from an intuitive source and letting the story write itself as we went along. If that wasn’t divine inspiration on learning to trust myself again, how to be okay with taking steps toward the next chapter of my life, I don’t know what is!

This approach not only brought joy to my students, but there was an upwelling of healing for my own tired heart as my students and I connected over common human emotion and the desire to leave our mark.
I realized that I had to reevaluate how I thought about my work.

To abandon old processes and concentrations so that I could allow myself to breathe. I had to give myself the freedom to make art that I might hate when I was done with it. It was absolutely necessary to allow myself to make mistakes again. To make in a manner of complete abandon the way the five-year-old version of myself had.

Now, if I find myself feeling unsatisfied with my work or feeling stuck I know I need to spend some time drawing with people half my age. Or, at least check in with my inner-child and get back to a place where I am not over thinking my work.

The mission of feeling financially secure in your artistic endeavors can be an equally daunting task. It’s hard not to get upset when you spent all that time working on a grant proposal and the funds are awarded to someone else.

My S.O. and I didn’t get the Burning Man grant by the way, but the project hasn’t been abandoned yet. There are other options available to us if we are willing to network, to spend more time setting up “kick starter” web pages and accounts, and if we refuse to lose sight of the purpose for our art.

Know that a lot of the time you have to meet up with the right people, who will become your support system for a specific project. Sometimes we just don’t know how to present it to the panel of judges and the whole “there’s always next year” thing starts to make a lot more sense. Other times it means we need to expand our audience.

Trial and error is just as important to us in building our reputation as an artist as it was when we were first learning to make a balanced composition.&

If at first you don’t succeed…

Well, you know the rest.

3) What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person?

The greatest challenge I have faced as a creative person is two-fold.
  1. Finding the confidence within myself necessary to pursue a career that others may have trouble understanding.
  2. Coming to terms with the financial and emotional struggles I face because I have chosen to follow my passions instead of seeking out the most comfortable or lucrative career.
It is so easy to allow the opinions and seeming lack of support from the most important people in our lives (parents, friends, etc.) discourage us from listening to our hearts.

What I have discovered over the past year, during GRE exams, tears, graduate school applications, interviews around the country, financial planning, and yes… more tears… is that sometimes a loved one’s concerns over the steps you are taking in pursuit of your goals aren’t voiced because they don’t want you to be happy. It’s not that they don’t want you to succeed or don’t believe in your ability to meet your goals. Family and friends – we worry about each other. This is no mystery!

So, it is important to keep in mind that a lot of the time things that come across as unsupportive are said out of fear that you are taking a path that they know virtually nothing about… beyond the “starving artist” stereotype.

I implore you to follow your own arrow, and not let their words dissuade you from a calling.If it brings you bliss and you are willing to work for it – why not?

4) How do you cope with creative anxiety and societal expectations?

This is something I must deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes it is extremely difficult for me to ignore the bits of advice given to me with all the best intentions and to truly trust that my inner-voice is guiding me in the right direction.

Because I am who I am, and have developed a profound interest in yoga – in the form of an Asana and Meditation Practice – I believe in an internal source of knowing.

I am creative, therefore I am meant to create…

But there is extreme trust there.

I have to believe that

      a) my gut instincts are valuable and valid
      b) I deserve to do what makes me happy.

My Practice now spills over into every aspect of my life and gives me the confidence I need to completely trust my decisions and myself.

In addition, I have taken a page from the book of my students and made the decision to embrace my creative spirit. It is, without question, one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It hasn’t been until the past six months that I have really wanted to start projects that have nothing to do with youth or school. It is what my desire, along with encouragement from my SO, to make interactive sculptures.

Because of the things pushing me to create, I don’t think of making a profit off of my ideas in terms of money. A successful piece would bring a sense of clarity to at least one person who aids in its construction, if not many.

5) How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?

I trust in the chaos of the world around me because I have no other choice – unless I want to become bitter and immobilized by my fears of the unknown.

Remember all those stereotypes and naysayers we mentioned earlier?

Well, they have their place and don’t come without some hint of truth.

Making a living as an artist is not easy work, but we wouldn’t have chosen this path if it were.

Tell me you never had to hide a smile when someone criticized you for wanting to be an artist, going on about how much you would struggle to make ends meet!

Admit it, you liked the idea of this challenge.

We wouldn’t want to create if we didn’t have questions about the world we live in. If we weren’t trying to figure it out.

We wouldn’t have these questions if we knew everything.
(Do you see where I am going with this?)

Without the uncertainty of the future there would be no need for creative thinking. No questions to be answered. No problems to solve.

When we allow ourselves to embrace the unknown we can actually be present in our lives, and in our work. Sometimes things are going to go well, and sometimes there are going to be bumps in the road.
It’s life and a reality someone in any profession could encounter.

If my intentions are good and I continue to push forward even when things get rough – if I refuse to quit dreaming – I can use the uncertainty of my future as motivation to use my creativity as a solution to any hardship I may face.

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