Dangerous Compassions

art identity

I mention often that I make art.  This is some new art I made yesterday–atcs with some skeleton-ness.  There’s multiskeleton kid, knee eyes, apologizing for someone else, and knee eyes.

art identity

It helps me to have something already on the page to make my art on.  I’m pulling my art into this world from the other world.  And it lands better, when something is already on the page.

An old friend elsewhere writes me letters, and sometimes I like to put art over what she sent.  My art feels safer, held by her word-love.


I make art most days, but I didn’t want to call myself an artist.  That whole conundrum started to trouble me.  Why would I do the thing, but not have an art identity?  What am I afraid of?

First I thought I was afraid of responsibility.  Well, no–first I was blaming Frank O’Hara.  His poem “Why I Am Not a Painter” really bothered me, from a young age.  I believed you could be one or the other, poet or painter.  Not both.

But responsibility–I can’t even fathom how my responsibility could change.  I’m already responsible for speaking my truth bravely and doing my best to share.  Taking on an art identity wouldn’t change that.


Something about money troubled me.  Poets don’t make money from poems.  Being a pro poet is more rare than being a pro football player, or rock star.

But artists–there’s a chance, you could be lucrative.  So if I was an artist, would that mean I should try to do art as a career?  Yeah, that scared me.  I could have a responsibility to try to make money off my art.  Galleries, shows?  Trying to please nasty rich people?  Schmoozing, fawning, looking at trends?  Yuck.

Money is very confusing for me, and I struggled with that for decades.  Now I accept that money makes no sense to me, and get on with my life.

other artists

My friend B is a real artist–I’m just a dork.  What am I doing?  Goofing around.  What she does is legit.  I’m just silly.

Or my other friend B–he went to school for art, and does graphic design.  He can use computer programs and gets paid to design logos.  He has a huge scanner and huge printer.  Also, he sells his art online.  What he does matters.  He knows what he’s doing.  What I do never could matter.

When I showed my art to these friends, I was hungry for their approval.  If they said liked my art, I was so happy.  I believed I was on the right track and could be proud of myself.

My friend A also–she can make all kinds of art, takes classes, watches youtube videos on technique.  She can paint, draw, collage, mixed media, embroider, sew, crochet, make macrame, and many things I probably never heard of.  I was hungry for her approval too.

My newish friend J too is a real artist.  If these people liked my art, I glowed inside.  I blushed with joy.

Now I believe–it’s cool to love the validation, but I’m doing art in my own way.  If I say I’m an artist, maybe I can rely less on other people.  Probably I’ll always want to show my art to Ming, and feel happy if he likes it.  But I can trust myself more.


I’d like to decide that writing including poetry, making visual arts, rapping, singing, dance, playing musical instruments, and making zines are all ways of expression.  The distinctions are artificial.  What if the poetic license I’ve been carrying around for decades always worked, all along, for all the arts?

I’d like to relax about art identity.  Let’s try out calling me an artist.  Thank you for witnessing my experiment.

Hi, I’m an artist.  I’m Laura-Marie, and I make lots of kinds of art.  Yes, I’m an artist.  Yep, that’s me.  Artist Laura-Marie.

oh wait

There were some other reasons I hesitated to call myself an artist.  I felt a prejudice, against artists, like we’re flakes.  Or something conceited, like artists are wearing a beret, smoking cigarettes, looking down their nose at people, and doing too much drugs selfishly.

Honestly, artists have been difficult to work with, over the years.  Mostly zine art that took months later than promised, or never was made at all.  Or the artists I tried to collaborate with who changed my words, seeing something as a typo that was not a typo.  Yeoow!

That was many years ago but inspired a dramatic vow of–I will never collaborate ever again!  Later, of course, I did collaborate again.


Then also there’s demographics, marketing, image, who I am, and could anyone care what I have to say?  Disabled crazy fat woman, middle aged, hears voices.  Could I matter at all?

My importance feels kicked to the curb–my needs are dismissed as weird and not relevant.  So I thought my art would be too.

Sometimes I said I’m an outsider artist.  But that feels silly, like calling myself lumpen.  If you know the term lumpen, maybe you’re too privileged to be lumpen.


My friend J and I were talking about the pain of exclusion.  Yes, even if I can see how fucked up it is, in that world–part of me still really hurts, that I’m not let in.  J feels it too.  Ze doesn’t claim the artist title either.

I want to be who I am, use words rather accurately, have fun, and not let my life be ruled by fear.  Oh, I thought of another issue I had.  Before, I thought I couldn’t be an artist because artists are sacred–it’s an honored role.  Of course I could not be sacred.

But now I think I could try on that art identity label like a costume.

I finished eight more Nevada postcards this morning.  Some are funny–I like the turnip one.



I made one more of those affirmation arts also, for a friend.

art identity

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

5 replies on “art identity”

This line has be laughing out loud. Thank you.

“Sometimes I said I’m an outsider artist. But that feels silly, like calling myself lumpen. If you know the term lumpen, maybe you’re too privileged to be lumpen.”

I’m glad to know what gave you a laugh. I’ve got no smokes, but jokes forever. when I hear you found that part funny, I know why you’re called Geeksta. you’re smarter than the average Bear-trand.

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