I come from a family of creators, a community of artists, a people that see the world through lenses of paintbrushes, music notes, poetry, and rhythmic feet. We have honed the skill of seeing beauty in nothing, and have made it our mission in life to usher the beauty out with our bare hands.
However, the hardest part of being an artist is to have your art completely separated from you. To have your art discredited… which is pretty much the same thing as having yourself discredited. And I have witnessed countless artists grieve…
Like when my grandmother lost her vision after her second stroke and she was no longer able to sew or knit anything. I saw her look at the old table cloths and saris she fashioned from her trembling hands, and how the tears rolled down her eyes so helplessly as she said, “I feel like I just lost one of own children.”
Or like when my mother, the architect, had waited and saved up for over a decade to build a two-story brick house with forest green tiles, wooden handrails, and an indoor courtyard with bamboo trees that stood twenty feet tall. Two years later, my mother was signing papers to the brick house over to the new tenants. “I’m not sure I can ever build a house like that again. I poured out everything I had in me into that house,” she confided in me.
Or like when I gave a critical friend to edit my essay, and she asks me, “Why are you a journalism major?” And I stopped identifying myself as a “writer” for over a year.
For all you hurting artists out there, oh, how I know your pain so well. Grieve, as you must. But don’t wave your final flag just yet. Tonight, this is my prayer for you — “The Artist Manifesto: A Battle Cry for Every Hurting Artist.”
Let us be artists to fight.
For the right to bear a paintbrush or a pen
Is ours, for we breathe.
So don’t let your paint dry out or your ink splatter.
Let it waltz through your canvas
And let your poetry win the final battle.
Let us be artists that bruise
Easily. We are firstly, humans.
Humans with soft hearts and tender hands,
But don’t let it scare you. Go ahead, create.
Sing the song, with your faint, tired voice.
You will find healing, in your ability to heal.
Let us be artists who never stops
Fighting off demons that try to snatch our daring dreams.
Renew like the spring after harsh winters
And recreate what was once taken from you.
Tell you story, despite your story.
And let the world know…
You are an artist. You cannot be another.