A few of you may remember Cheri from a year or so ago when she was the subject of one of our Artist Profiles. Cheri has been my (Annie) friend for quite some time now and it is an honor to introduce her as a regular guest blogger here at D&L Day2Day! Cheri and I first met in Iowa before Cheri left to pursue her studies and career in interior design. Here's a little more about Cheri, in her own words.
Hello. Today is the first day of what will hopefully be a consistent contribution to Dot&Line’s Day2Day blog. So of course introductions are in order. And while I’m at it, I might as well tackle the topic of identity, as it has been on my mind since the moment Annie first asked me to contribute here on Dot&Line Day2Day a few months ago. “Me? Little old me? I’m not sure I’m worthy….”
My name is Cheri Johnson, interior designer by trade, fellow LlamaTM for sure, art show curator, blanket maker, organic foodie, supporter of all things green, lover of all things pretty (in my free time), and closet writer by night when I can sneak away from my four month old son. Ironically, like Kate, I have a gorgeous, genius, husband who has genetically engineered our newborn son to grow at startling rates. I have just entered into a new space in life - mother - and I am pretty sure no other experience can quite take over an identity like having your own little one.
When Annie first asked me to contribute here at D&L Day 2 Day, I told her I needed to wait until I finished an art show I was busy curating in NYC on Valentine’s Day. And while this was true, (and the art show was fabulously fun by the way, thanks for asking!) I was also hemming and hawing inside about what I could contribute to the thoughts of the creative world… It’s easy, no matter how professional or amateur your creative endeavors are, to wonder about what right you have to give yourself the label of “creative” or to tell other people you are an “artist.” Even now I can’t type those words without putting quotes around them! Of course, the truth is, there is no line a person crosses that does or does not give them the right to take on that identity as their own.
Still, feeling worthy can be a challenge. As I wrestle with the identity of “mother” and the percentage of my daily life taken up by what Annie refers to as the “altar of utility” (all of my moments now involve all engrossing feedings, changings, or playings), it’s easy to feel like the intersection of creativity and daily life can get farther and farther away. I find questions of self-doubt seeping into my mind. Can you call yourself “creative” if you haven’t touched a project in over a month? Are you an artist if you haven’t even tried to sell your skills for a few months? What business do you have to consider yourself a designer anymore when you haven’t worked since your baby was born? Is there a difference between being an artist and having a hobby?
The new challenge I am now facing is how I squeeze in another identity - mother - without pushing out others like “creative” or “artist.” But I have a feeling I am not alone… In fact, in the time since I started thinking about it, I have become certain that part of the true challenge of being human is how we navigate a desire to live ten lives at the same time… (I want to live in Africa among raw nature, I want to be a recluse writer on some tropical beach, I want to be a down town interior designer, I want to be Mother Teresa in the dredges of the most challenging environments, I want to be the perfect mother, I want to be a gallery artist, the CEO of my own company, an inventor, a politician… my list goes on and on, can you tell?!) I am starting to think the amazing thing about being creative, about having creative twinges, whether you’re a great artist or not, is that it is an identity you can take anywhere and share with any other identity. So now I am working on ways to use my creative energy in everything that I do, whether or not I am the world’s most recognized artist right now. From how I set a plate on the table to the way I fold my towels, I must remember that I am an artist-no quotation marks needed!