“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
~ Dalai Lama
I tend to seek out people that are miles ahead of me career-wise and ask them for advice. I’ve done this three separate times since I moved to Asheville in 2011. The first piece of advice I received was from a well-known artist who does nationwide public art installations. He told me that I should donate my “best work” to at least two auctions a year for the sole purpose of the cause itself.
Now, let me be honest here…the auction part of it didn’t seem as daunting to me as giving away “my best work”. After all, my best work usually sold relatively quickly which gave me income and allowed me to make more art. However, I also knew that I would be opening myself up to an audience who would subsequently learn more about me and become further exposed to my work. Donate my art. Give my “best” art away for free. Put myself out there and get a glimpse of the perceived value of my best work in a live setting. Vomit.
I let this advice simmer with me for about 6 months and finally concluded something far beyond the initial conversation I had with this artist. I learned that these causes I would eventually give to, would give back to me in multiple and immeasurable ways.
Let me tell you, there is something incredibly fulfilling about putting yourself out there, being vulnerable and giving the best that you have for others. I have two children, a husband and a full-time art career that I try to balance. Like many others, I don’t have the time to give to hands-on charitable not-for-profits like I used to before my children were born. My time is so truncated that I have to use every inch of it to move forward, meet deadlines and keep on top of things. I decided and have now dedicated my life’s work to give back within the confounds of my own chosen path.
Giving back through my art is the most natural, cyclical part of who I am today. I now only paint if I can give back at the same time. Ironically, this drastic and seemingly counterintuitive way to make a living has projected my career in more ways than ever. Presently, my drive and passion to give through my art is what excites me and keeps me going. “What goes around comes around”…which is a lot of why I continue to paint wheels and bikes…but that’s a discussion for another day.
I now give to multiple causes but here is my list of a few that pull my heartstrings more than others:
- Lotus Outreach International: Lotus Outreach is a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the education, health and safety of at-risk women and children in the developing world. http://www.lotusoutreach.org/july14#nancy
- OpenDoors of Asheville: OpenDoors is an Ashevillle based not-for-profit that connects at-risk kids, living in multi-generational poverty, with an active, individualized support network of local families. These volunteer families provide mentoring as well as transportation to sports and extracurricular activities, tutoring, and school events. This network advocates for OpenDoors kids in the their schools and helps them gain access to school resources so they can graduate high school and flourish. http://opendoorsasheville.org/auction-items/the-yo-yo/
- Girls on the Run of WNC: Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization for girls in the 3rd through the 8th grade dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. http://www.gotrwnc.org/event/257/thirteen-a-show-of-13-inspirational-and-influential-women
- Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP): WNCAP is dedicated to providing HIV related services to the people of Western North Carolina through client support, prevention education and outreach activities, in a collaborative and financially responsible manner. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/316800155011684789/
- The Asheville Art Museum: The Asheville Art Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, accredited by the American Association of Museums. Among other things, the museum offers a wide array of educational programs for all ages. http://www.ashevilleart.org