Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sara Barney on Having an Artist Mentor

Many qualities make a truly exceptional artist mentor: being committed, keeping your best interests at heart, being nonjudgmental, having the ability to sincerely listen, being sensitive to personal obstacles, being secure enough in their own skin to support your discovery, challenging you, inspiring you to do your best, being completely transparent, honest, patient, trustworthy. Deborah fills all qualities.

I have worked exceptionally hard to be independent, to be confident in my decisions, and with that, sometimes I feel I have been perceived as not needing any help. Just because people strive to be confident does not mean they do not have insecurities and difficulties. I feel I lacked the support of an artist mentor during fragile moments. This is not to say that I didn’t have amazing teachers, as well as strong support from family and friends, though something was lacking through my journey in school. The Fellowship has given me an opportunity of a lifetime. Receiving guidance in the transition from the academic world to NYC is much needed and appreciated. Deb is not only giving me guidance though my artistic endeavors, she is also helping my through personal discoveries. She is opening my eyes to many more possibilities I have perhaps over looked in the past.

The pressure of doing the right thing has lent a hand in blocking my career choices and creative process. Deb’s encouragement and support is helping me to break through and identify what I truly need in my career and creative mind. I tend to live my life haunted by the word "should". Should I do that? Should I be trying harder? Is this something I should want for myself? These questions have contributed to my decision-making process in the past. The process of figuring out what I really need in life and in the arts is difficult when the word "should" is involved. Deb has a way of asking me difficult questions that we never like to ask ourselves, to get to the root of my thoughts. She holds me accountable to the goals I set for myself, which helps me, in return, from letting my responsibilities to myself lose priority in my life. I am now, more than ever, challenging myself to maintain a sense of willingness and openness in exploring new ventures. This environment, that structured time I have built, is a safe space for exploring and discovering my choices.

Deb has helped me acknowledge balance or the lack of balance in my life. I have found we need to listen to our creative side and nourish it with stimulating thought and activity. Those little things that we say we never have time for, or that we wished we did more often, are all contributing factors to a balanced or unbalanced life. I recommend not to turn away from those thoughts and needs. I, with the support of my mentor, have taken responsibility in setting priority in bringing balance to my life. This has helped me evaluate, along with put focus on standards I would like for myself.

Deb is helping me take a more realistic perspective of this profession. I had known realities of this profession previously, though living in an unstructured, nonacademic world where I run my life and make my own decisions is quite an eye-opener. It's pushing me to recognize the idea of budget and is forcing me to take a look at what I want for my future. Having the support of my artist mentor allows for me to go into this experience with a little less fear. She is like a safety net of inspiration and motivation to keep going.

My confidence in networking has been boosted. She has given me a sense of self-worth in this field that has been dormant. I now have rethought the act of networking; it is much more human than I thought it was. We are all people and appreciate acknowledgment. Why not introduce yourself and make it known that you have a genuine liking towards their work? In the act of doing that, there's no harm in slipping them one of your new lovely business cards, either.

I feel honored to be able to go to a variety of performances with someone who lives in the center of it all. This opportunity is introducing me to a family of positive role models. I feel I have been given access to a professional community that I would not so easily have without my artist mentor.

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