I've seen people capable of leadership opt out because they don't want the responsibility. I think when people think of leadership the vision is immediately of a Dr. King or a Mahatma Gandhi leading hundreds thousands or millions of people. Like the song says however it 'taint necessarily so". Leadership can be as small as motivating people in your household or community. Whether it's in the arts or in any other field is a delicate balance. What I want artists across all fields to realize is that they ARE leaders, to respect that responsibility and to act on it. I don't think that some artists realize the extreme capacity they have to lead or view themselves as actual leaders. Maybe they feel they are introverts or the person behind the scenes (that was my issue). Maybe visual artists specifically figure: the whole reason I became an artist was so that I wouldn't have to be in front of people! Why would I want to lead?However there are so many different forms of leadership, both overt and covert that can literally end up moving nations. Many times people don't see that what they do as actually leadership if done correctly. However artists, have been amongst he storytellers, the recorders of history, the motivators, and the changemakers in every decade. Think of Norman Rockwell's 'The Problem We All Live With' (1964) bringing desegregation to light using little Ruby Bridges as an iconic figure that was palatable enough for people to receive. The image was the spoonful of sugar that people needed to make their medicine go down that Mary Poppins always told us about. Think of Goyas 'Third of May' or Pablo Picassos 'Guernica' which depicted the horrors of war so grotesquely they remained relevant for decades or Kathe Kollwitz's view of war and grief from a woman's perspective. Some of the most amazing images I've ever seen of the hope and the resilience of humankind are images of sculptures, drawings and musical works recovered from Jews who created during the holocaust. And this is just referring to the creation of works by artists that have cultural impact. What about artists who use their platform to speak about things that are important to them like Julia Louise Dreyfus making her breast cancer diagnosis known by proclaiming: "Today I am the one." or Selena Gomez, Toni Braxton, Nick Cannon or Seal talking about their diagnosis with lupus. Then there are the people like Paul Robeson and Lena Horne who refused to perform for segregated audiences. They had enough confidence in the quality of their work, the power of their station as artists and their changemaker qualities to know that when they refused to perform, venue owners might change their tune. This is indeed leadership. Leadership can be as simple as teaching a child some of your skills and knowing that they could be the next up-and-coming artist 🎨 . Leadership is knowing when and how to speak to people and how to be respectful. Leadership is knowing how to motivate people to move forward instead of pushing them. Leadership is knowing how to engage people whether through pen and paper or dance. Trust me when I say I'm not always 100% sure what leadership is though I have to speak on it often. What I will say is that I love the concept of each artist having to push themselves to find their own leadership within, and exercise that gift. Go get em! 😘D
"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." Matthew 21:42
What can I say about rejection letters? They suck! They suck bad: like the best vacuum cleaner you've ever owned BAD; and I'm sitting here looking at one now (um the letter, not the vacuum, (Lol). It's not my first. It is not the last and let's be frank (Hi Frank!) I'll probably see several more over the course of my lifetime. I think I may have amassed over 100 at least. Having said all that, I have to tell you: I absolutely LOVE a good rejection letter! I am amazed by the various ways people can come up with to tell you that your work is just not up to par or what they're looking for. But the creativity....man the creativity and verbal shenanigans people undertake to help you be ok with the 'no' floors me and I love it. However the thing I love most about rejection letters is the way they force you to conquer your demons, to overcome, to do better, to strive harder, to grow more, to become more efficient...the stuff of legends! Baby (in my adopted Louisiana drawl) a good rejection letter can be the impetus for you becoming a Pulitzer Prize winner somewhere down the road! Let's face it, most people only become great after they failed several hundred times (OK so the number may be an exaggeration) but think of the Gertrude Stein's; Andy Warhols', Michael Jordans', Albert Einstein's and Oprah Winfrey's that faced either rejection letters or rejection in general before things got real good. What can I say? I'm in great company and I feel no pain. Matter of fact, one of my best speeches began with me rattling off lines from about six past rejection letters. The speech was so easy to write because I kept all of them; every last one of them and compiled them in a three ring binder so I would never forget what it took to get to the next level, and so that I would never lose the hunger to fight my way up from 'struggle'. This journey should never get ' easy' and I should never get complacent... lest I take the lazy path. Some of the same places I received rejection letters from 10 years ago are some of the very same places that have accepted me a few years later. I make sure to put those in the book too because it's an important lesson in stick-to-it-ive-ness. And of course all those letters amount one thing... success!
So, in case you're still wondering why I would make a crazy statement like: "I love a rejection letter', it boils down to one thing. Every rejection letter I have ever received made me work 10 times harder, produce better work, develop tougher skin and create greater resolve. Like Theodore Roosevelt's 'Man in the Arena' speech, rejection letters just prove: you took the shot. Whether you make the shot or not isn't important.! The fact that you tried is epic! So many people never try, and you can't win what you don't take a stab at. Thank God for rejection! It is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. 💓D