I have a friend who is a wildly talented artist. We met through mutual friends early in my design career while she was in a career transition herself. We worked together on graphics for my business back then and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, largely thanks to social media. I’ve had the privilege of watching her and her work evolve and take flight, and I hope one day to have one of her pieces for my own.
She’s currently working on a very interesting project called “7 Words Or Less”. It’s a social experiment whereby she’s asked her community of friends and loved ones to share a specific experience in seven words or less that changed their lives. The responses have been surprising and varied from funny to sad to scary, and will all become part of a future work. Eager to support my friend, her project and the arts in general, I started to respond. When I say I started to respond, I mean I didn’t actually get to the part where I submitted something. What I did instead was find myself struggling to choose just one experience that changed my life.
I embarked on an emotional carnival ride full of profound joy, visceral anguish, and a host of deep and meaningful feelings in between. As I reflected on those life changing events, I also thought about all the people connected to them. I couldn’t choose just one of them either. Both lists were very long indeed. This exercise was so rich and so much different from the familiar fond walk down memory lane. Looking in the rear view mirror at the moments and the individuals that have shaped you into who you are today is not a breezy task. At least it wasn’t for me. So much awesome stuff! So much terrifying stuff! So much wonderful and heartbreaking and maddening and thrilling stuff. Recounting those experiences gave me butterflies in my stomach, made my heart race, made me sob, burn with anger and laugh out loud. I was swimming around in the sea of my own personal history, each wave hitting me with such a forcible sense that I was back there reliving every moment. It was a lot. I had to take a nap.
Art is created to inspire. It is created to express and evoke emotion. Art, whether we are creating it or responding to it, is a reflection of our deepest selves. I’m struck by the impact of this seemingly simple experiment and very much look forward to seeing my friend’s finished work. Of all the weighty emotions I felt as a result of this exercise, endless gratitude was overarching. I feel ridiculously lucky to have been through all of the moments that have molded me – even the painful and ugly ones, maybe even especially those. Ok, Maybe not. I really do prefer landing on the wonderful, thrilling and joyous side, I’ll be honest. Life is not always pretty and while I may complain from time to time, I have and will continue to take the good with the bad – I’m so very fortunate to have the former out way the latter.
Thank you Christine Cassano, I’m grateful for all of it and grateful to you for helping me see it through the eyes of the present moment. I want to participate so I will eventually choose just one and hit send.
Leann Fernald is owner of award winning Ornamentation LLC, maker of Design Effects, the Essential Embellishment. She is a member of IFDA and ASID and held an eleven year career in design with Festoon Interiors before moving to manufacturing. Her background is varied and covers hospitality and vacation tourism, aquaculture, new business and product development, national sales, merchandising and marketing. You can reach Leann by email at firstname.lastname@example.org , on her mobile 480-326-8450 or by visiting her website at www.ornamentationaz.com