Last week I received my first rejection from an art gallery.
By "first" I don't mean that I've never been rejected before, just that I've never sent a formal submission to a gallery before. My work has been accepted into a lot of juried art shows, and I've been rejected from just as many. In a couple of cases, friends have connected me with gallerists who've expressed an interest in my work and in a couple of others, gallerists have contacted me directly. I've also sent some "hit and run" emails to gallery directors which consist of a couple of sentences and a link to my website. And I've snail-mailed many postcards. But in all these years, I've never sent an actual submission to a gallery. Why?
I wish I could say it was something sexy like "I make art for art's sake," or "my art speaks for itself," but that's just bubble-wrap. Pull those word-bubbles away and it's naked fear. It's that secret fear we all feel but usually won't admit -- that we'll be told we aren't good enough. We wrap ourselves in our tinfoil word-bubbles of choice and convince ourselves it's armor. We hold onto those beliefs for dear life because letting go could kill us. It really could. Which way does the shiny side of that tinfoil armor face? Facing inward, the rejection mirrors our inner fears, reflecting them back and forth into infinity. Facing outward, it reflects off the armor, giving the illusion of strength until one day the rejection burns right through. Either way is a death of sorts. And neither is a result of the rejection but our response to it.
Reflection is a property of light. If we peel back our defenses, we can allow the light of rejection to pass through us and perhaps gain some clarity. When I wrote about perspective, I noticed the armor another artist had wrapped around herself and acknowledged that I had been there too. But I ignored the fact that I'm still there, wrapped up in my armor-plated beliefs, excuses, and fears so thick and heavy it's been difficult to move forward. It was time for me to take my own advice and take a step. So I loosened a few layers, revealed myself, held my breath... and I was rejected. But rather than getting burned, I let it wash over and through me. I didn't die! In that light I could see that the rejection wasn't a reflection at all but simply a transaction. That's all it took. In an instant, all those fears, excuses, and defenses melted away, much like the Winter Warlock's icy heart.
I'm already sending out more submissions. Now that I know it won't kill me I'm eager to! The next challenge will be to receive an acceptance in the same way. It's not a reflection of anything.
Have any thoughts you'd like to share? Post your questions and comments below.
You can take a look at my painting collections here.