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For better or worse

Andante
Wall hanging
300mm x 300mm

Guess what! I applied to this year’s New Zealand Artshow and… was rejected.
At the risk of putting off potential buyers and collectors, I still want this fact to be known.

Why?

Because my social media and website should not just represent the “successes”, the “good times”, the pretty pictures and the smiles.

I don’t want to present one face to the virtual world and another to the people that love me and support me no matter what. I want to be honest and transparent. Nothing to hide.

Wait.

I don’t mean that gives everyone the right to all the information about all the facts, interactions and transactions of my day-to-day life! I’d still like to keep some secrets, some things private, some things to myself! Does that sound paradoxical?

What I mean by honest is that I want to represent, in person, the fact that conditional life is as messy as it is beautiful.

We can all nod and say, “Yes, we know that what we see about people on the internet is the outcome of calculated image-management. We know there is a shadow side we don’t necessarily get to see.”

But to me this is not good enough.

The shadow side must be exposed, shared and talked about to make it visceral.
Only that way can we undermine the destructive nature of Social Media that makes it so addictive and makes people feel inferior or under pressure to perform or be a certain way. To be offering only the consoling, the plusses, or at least something dramatic or extraordinary.

I’ve also noticed the internet bursts at the seams with stories about artists and writers’ rejections before success. But always only once they’ve broken through and become published, millionaires, superstars, never in the midst of trials and errors. And what about those who never made it during their lifetime – or not even after it!

Lento
Mosaic Wall Hanging
300mm x 300mm

Sure, I felt momentarily disappointed and doubtful after learning that the New Zealand Artshow doesn’t want to include my awesome mosaics in their show this year, explaining that: “… the selectors feel that your works require more development in terms of subject matter, composition or technique.” But I didn’t feel disheartened.

Instead I felt pushed to contemplate again if making mosaics really is what I want to do for a living. If I have faith in my talent,  meet my own standards, enjoy it enough. After a few days of quiet contemplation I found myself answering all those questions with a resounding yes. I felt motivated and enthusiastic to start on a new piece and to keep promoting my mosaics. And I feel grateful for yet another opportunity to remember that my doing is not my being, and my being is not my doing.

Sharing both “successes and failures” offers me a chance to emphasise again and again that we are all equally human and that conditional life is messy and raw in all its aspects for all of us. To remind myself that my human existence has the same beautiful sacrificial destination as all life on earth; the essential ingredient in the life cycle of all creatures, things and phenomena: physical death. There was never a game to win and the fact that I am here is… IT.
There is simply life to be lived and gratitude to be nurtured and express.

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A curious case of plagiarism

The first time it dawned on me that my mosaics might have potential beyond my own narcissistic admiration and the sweet though biased encouragement of friends and family, was when I came upon a local newspaper article about unusual letterboxes, in which the woman who had commissioned me, confidently claimed the design and installation had been all hers. She stated she had made this mosaic and it had taken her a lot of planning and 3 months to complete!

It had been my very first commission, after the woman in question had seen  my artwork in “The Bridgeman Gallery”, in New Plymouth back in 2003. The newspaper article appeared as late as 2008, but I had carefully kept a photocopy of the bank cheque that paid me for the project as a momento of completing my first commission, a rather quaint creation intended to portray a tulip, but interpreted by pretty much everybody (including the postie) as some kind of whale or a huge fish.

I never confronted this patron directly, nor found out why she would have claimed such a quirky work as her own. But I did write a letter to the editor of the local paper asserting my creative rights over this tulip fish. A rectification was duly published the following week. 13 years on, the letterbox is still standing proud, uplifting Durham Ave in New Plymouth, New Zealand, with a bright spark.

Sitara Morgenster January 2017

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