Reflections About Sharing Art

Design by Sara Offer

On the final day of my first year of college, the night consumes me. Beneath a star-studded sky, memories and emotions well up within, and the promise of summer excites me. Yet, how can I express it? How can I articulate it? How do I give coherence to all these emotions? I lean over the table and surrender to writing a poem. Ideas flow, words flow, and suddenly, all my feelings find a home on the piece of paper. The night now makes sense.

However, when I finish the poem, doubt is the only thing that remains: what if I share it? Should I share it? Do I want to share it? Suddenly, the possibility of sharing the poem becomes a daunting fear. 

If someone were to ask me today, I’d say that art is one of the most vital aspects of my life. But last year, I hardly shared any of my writing. Why? What is it that terrifies me?

Frankly, I’m terrified of revealing the vulnerability in my writings. I appreciate preserving my privacy, especially when it concerns something as intimate as artistic creation. When I write, it’s not just a source of entertainment but an expression of the most subtle and elusive corners of my existence. I sometimes struggle to uncover these facets of myself, and sometimes, I’m not on friendly terms with them. The thought of making them accessible to anyone sends shivers down my spine. It’s akin to offering something precious, something almost sacred.

But that’s not my only concern. I don’t want my identity to be defined entirely by my art. It’s merely a mode of expression for a part of me, perhaps the most sentimental and vulnerable part, but it doesn’t encapsulate the totality of my being. Sharing my writing with friends offers comfort because I know they see me beyond the text. They don’t perceive me solely as a writer or as someone with particular views on death or love. However, when I contemplate sharing my poems or stories with a wider audience, what terrifies me is my potential reduction to just a vulnerable subject—to an artistic personality rather than a person, to a fragment of my character I generally prefer to conceal.

Suddenly, the starry night gives way to a dark storm, and the sound of rain ushers in a wave of worries. Far in the distance, a whisper of a sunny dawn is heard, but it is not here yet.

The transition from a starry night to a rainy one is captivating. Change, motion, novelty—these are among my most cherished phenomena. Yet, contemplating this poem I’ve just penned, the prospect of change from sharing my art terrifies me. When I think about sharing my writing, I not only consider exposing my vulnerability but also relinquishing control and artistic freedom.

The potential for sharing art implies, suddenly, confronting constraints and responsibilities greater than I can fathom. It’s no longer about creating freely; it’s about conforming to certain patterns and traditions that can transform what I feel into art. It’s about writing to captivate an audience so that my ideas can make sense not just to me but to others as well. Suddenly, creation feels like a confining space; I must resort to metaphors for public consumption rather than references that only I can understand, even though they are the most authentic. The essence of my art changes, inevitably subjected to the demands of popularity and convenience, and my art is no longer mine but belongs to someone else.

But that’s not all. A more fundamental concern emerges: am I up to the challenge? Do I possess the talent and creativity to be an artist, privately and publicly? And with these questions come many more: is my art of sufficient quality to be shared? Is it creative enough to merit anyone’s attention? How can I begin without any experience in sharing art? Without ever having had an audience to relate to? 

Through the window, the first light of dawn begins to whisper. Birds stir, cars and the hum of activity grow on the asphalt. No matter where on campus, the sun must rise.

I cling onto these first murmurs of daylight, and I ponder whether I’ve long dwelled in the shadows, feeding myself from its darkness, its nerves and anxieties. As I gaze upon my poem once more, a thought arises: perhaps there is something to be gained when art is placed under the light.

 I reminisce about my arrival at university. I recall the innocence and the fear of losing myself, of relinquishing the comfort of who I once was. Returning to the present, on this last day of college, I take pride in the person I’ve become. While I may have lost certain parts of myself, I’ve gained so much more and managed to preserve what truly matters. All this is thanks to the decision to embark on the adventure of studying far from home. If tonight I can even appreciate my own poem about the intense feelings at the end of my first year of college, it is because I immersed myself in this great adventure.

I thus ask myself, could not sharing my art also be a grand adventure? It’s true that this journey may impose constraints and that through it, I risk feeling uncomfortable with the vulnerability of my work. But at the same time, it’s incredible to contemplate what I could gain.

Paths that haven’t yet crossed, messages yet to be conveyed, connections yet to be formed. Sharing art isn’t purely a self-indulgent process; it’s not just about personal comfort with my work. It can be about something larger: the prospect of forging connections with other people, forming new friendships based on empathy and a shared appreciation for the human experience. It can serve as a discreet introduction to new artistic circles, and new ways of interpreting the world and understanding oneself. The connection through art is unique; it transcends the ordinary and communicates from the deepest core of our being. To remain silent would mean depriving oneself of this profound possibility.

But it’s not just that. Contrary to my initial impression, sharing art can also enrich the artistic life of those who create. Art can be discovered within the very constraints I mentioned earlier—through the creation of a unique and distinctive language with limited resources. Artistic creation can also be found in manipulating conventional methods of artistic expression. It may lie in the relationship between the audience and this language, and in the reinvention of this language to refresh that connection. It might even reside in the discovery of new ways of self-expression that were previously hidden, only surfacing under pressure. The only way to unearth these treasures is to immerse oneself in the experience of sharing art.

And if this seems intimidating, if you doubt your artistic abilities, fear not. Art may reside in the form, indeed, but it’s also deeply rooted in the content—in the intention and the message. We all have unique messages to convey; perhaps artistic life does not get constrained when one decides to transmit these messages, whether or not one has the ability to do so, but that is exactly where a new adventure begins.

As I savor the sunrise, I realize there is one undeniable advantage: the artist is always the master of their own craft. The artist determines where to go with their art, when to go, and why. While you may not control what inspires you, you do wield power over how to express it. The great luxury is knowing what to share and what to hold back, understanding how to share and how not to. Some pieces are shared to seek solace in the emotions of other people, while others are reserved for the closest of friends, and some are kept for oneself.

Art is shared for the promise of something—be it connection, change, or more art. The potential for adventure transcends everything, and the artist is an artist not only when they share their work but even when they question whether to do so.

The light of day lifts me from my chair. While I may not know if I’ll ever share this fifteen-line poem or if it’ll hide in the shadows of my privacy, I do know that each day brings a new dawn, and with it, the possibility of placing more art under the light.

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