Monday, November 30, 2015

Failure and Rejection

This year has been a time to learn about rejection. I made a list of all the achievements and the rejections. Curiously enough, 7 successes over 11 rejections does't feel so bad after all: it is 60% success. However, if I had to depend solely on the art made this year I would have made $2,000 total. 

Artshow at The General Fine Craft and Design Gallery
Artshow at Chinatown Remixed
A residency program at ArtPlace AOE
A place as part of Blink, an Artists Collective
Successful fundraiser and bursary for Couple Enrichment Leader Training 
Art Auction to fund the Couple Enrichment Retreat Weekend in January, 2016
Art Show at 101 Gallery for January 2016

Forest School job
Carp Outdoor Program job
Parkdale Montessori School job
Residency EBA project
Carleton Art Gallery Director Assistant job
Canada Council Visual Art officer job
Algonquin College teaching job
Ontario Art Council - Chalmers Fellowship grant
Community Gallery Exhibit 2016 exhibition
Teaching at NVAC (not enough participants)
Teaching at Wallack's (not enough participants)
Ottawa University Art Residency for Faculty of Medicine, job teaching

Failure and Rejection

Failure and Rejection are two different things. Artists have to deal with both, sometimes at the same time, sometimes not. Artists take many blows and are constantly picking themselves up and starting again, when lack of resources, scarcity of support, isolation and loneliness hit hard. The pain of failure and rejection sit inside stubbornly and are difficult emotions to work through.

Failure comes to an artist in the shape of not achieving imagined financial goals; or not being able to accomplish a project as planned; or not finding echo in others for ideas and visions. One way to survive failure is changing direction and aiming again at the same target from a different point of view, or choosing a different target. Taking a look at the scene and learning what we can, picking up the pieces like small trophies, and humbly setting course again in the new chosen direction.

Rejection comes to an artist in the shape of criticism from peers, critics, or institutions. It also comes when not getting positive results with applications for grants, working positions, residencies and exhibitions. Rejection feels like one’s work is unnecessary, unwanted, undervalued, misunderstood, or unimportant. Recovering from rejection takes a huge amount of self-love and self-respect, which is not the same thing as having a big ego. It means seeing your gift to create as unique and valued, and allowing it to speak and develop despite the difficulties. It means separating your need to be loved as a human, from your need to find your voice. They do not go together. They are two different needs. The first one pertains to your family and friends, which we need it to survive and remain sane. The second one would be nice to have, but if not available, the artist needs to be convinced that the work has merit, and it will eventually find echo, a place to live, and an audience that wants it.

No time creating is wasted, despite what some people tell you. Art is not a financial burden on society, on families, on communities. It is the deepest voice of the soul, especially in a world where churches are empty, psychotherapy is expensive, and people are burying their imagination behind pixelated screens. Art is where the needs of our subconscious are met. Human beings are bone and flesh, but also imagination, spirit, dreams, fears, hopes, and ideals. Art is singing with our unique voice, hungry to be heard.


  1. If your proposal, plan, course, workshop, class, idea gets a "no" I would not say it is a " reject". It is just a "no"... And not to you, so many "yes" it hurts the e-yes!

  2. I love your page! i can see you take your time to do it...