Sunday, December 31, 2017

#172 - 177 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Six Self-Care Lessons

"Be Inspired Every Day" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Jane Claire Hervey wrote a helpful article about artist Yayoi Kusama's self-care lessons for Forbes Magazine. She suggests that if we are feeling a little burnt out and uninspired here at the end of what was a very difficult year for most of us, we should take heart from Kusama's ideas about self-care.  They can carry us into the New Year and to remind us to take care of our best asset (our selves!): 
Kusama's first idea of self-care is to normalize rejection. Rejection is okay, we all experience it from time to time. If we normalize it, we won't be afraid of it. If we accept that rejection is part of the process, then we can be brave enough to create truthfully. Hervey tells the story of how Kusama was actually physically removed from her installation at the 33rd Venice Biennale for selling portions of the exhibited work throughout the opening reception. She was examining the relationship between art and consumerism—the message was not appreciated by the powers that be.

Kusama's second idea that we can say "no" to what we find dull, uninspired, or unbearable. Because she had been frustrated with her early experiences at Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, she began to explore Western modern art and eventually moved to NYC to launch her career. Being active in the pop-art scene in New York in the late 1960s, Kusama took part in anti-Vietnam War protests featuring her performance pieces with naked participants. She bravely sought out and associated with Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O'Keeffe and others.

Kusama's third idea is that we should invest in our own wellbeing. She found that being very busy and pressured is not necessarily a good thing. She was first hospitalized because of overwork and exhaustion, but in 1977 actually moved into Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill in Tokyo, and has lived there (by choice) ever since.

Kusama's fourth idea is that we should explore methods and approaches to work, find the things that actually help us create our best work. She discovered that institutionalization did not have to stifle her creativity or her productivity. "It doesn't matter at all that I work in hospital or anywhere with limited space. Every day, I'm creating new works with all my might," she told The Huffington Post.

Her fifth idea is that we should appreciate our mentors and enjoy our tribe. Kusama's personal and professional friendships with Georgia O'Keeffe, Donald Judd and Joseph Cornell helped her enormously throughout the difficult times in her life.

Kusama's sixth idea is to fall in love with the process. She believes that success, fame and money do not make our work exciting, pleasurable or meaningful, but falling in love with the process will. And that makes all the difference. She continually credits her daily
art practice as a source of sanity and stability, referring to the actual work itself as medicinal and prescriptive. She wrote in her autobiography Infinity Net: “I fight pain, anxiety and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art. I followed the thread of art and somehow discovered a path that would allow me to live.”

Here's to Kusama's daily art practice and self-care lessons. May they help us steer our way into the new year.

For more information on “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” check here.