A few years ago, I participated in a local group art show, called “The WEE Show” . My former coworker/friend Marjolyn, of Box Studios, down on Franklin Street in East Vancouver, was curating the show. It was the first time I had even been in a show like that, and it was definitely the first time I had put a diorama on exhibit. It was an honour to be included, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by. I find it incredibly difficult to remember in what ” life stage” I was at this time (August 2009) , or what part of my creative journey I was in. Given my history up until this point, Its likely I was spinning in a web of my own self doubt….
What did I make you ask? I wanted to make something mysterious, something that could be easily displayed, within the size guidelines of the show, and something with “pizzazz”. It was a wall mounted wooden box, where you opened a little door, there was a forest night scene, complete with illuminated UFO in the sky, a waterfall, and a grey alien peaking around a tree. It was a delight to make, and wonderous to complete. My partner Austin helped me with the UFO, showing me how to wire it up with a battery pack with 2 AA batteries and a switch that would illuminate the UFO when the door was opened. Making it was EASY.
The hard part was showing it to anyone. I spent hours in a crippling state of panic in the few hours before the show. I made Austin drive me around the block, while I got a pep-talk from my therapist on the telephone, before I could even get out of the car. I have no recollection of inviting anyone to the show, and I’m sure there was only 3 people I knew there. The show was packed with strangers , and the art work was varied. OF COURSE, I was the only one with an interactive diorama, and I felt simultaneously humiliated and elated. I think that was the beginning of my startling conclusion that I was a person who made nerdy alien art. I did my best to try to not look directly at the people viewing my diorama, just in case they rolled their eyes or worse. I felt uncomfortably vulnerable, yet I had blissful anonymity in the room.
I don’t remember what happened next. I don’t remember how I felt after the show. I probably tried my to put the whole thing out of my head completely.
But then something kinda cool happened.
A few days/weeks after the show, I received an email from Marjolyn. She had received an email from a mystery man, who was interested in my listing price for the diorama. This was bizarre to me, and I hadn’t considered for a moment that someone might want to buy it. I had no idea what to say. The mystery man got in contact with me, and turned out to be a very complimentary teacher who wanted to buy some art for his young daughter. His emails were embarrassingly kind, and validating. I asked for $60, he countered with $100, but ended up giving me $200. It was a kind of backwards bidding war, and I am sure now it was my personal reward for pushing through my art anxiety. The money didn’t matter to me, it was the mere fact that someone out there, truly understood what I was passively putting out there. It gave me a little nugget of courage for me to put in my creativity bank to spend later. In some ways, I regret selling it. All I have are some feeble photos of it on a memory card somewhere. Somewhere there is a little girl, with her own glowing UFO mystery box, made by me, and it’s heavy with artsy angst.