So I'm sorry I haven't been here for a while, but so much has been going on! My heart is so completely filled with joy thinking about what a beautiful summer this has been. I've been making so many great memories with the best people I've ever known, and all I can think about is how crazy it is that destiny has brought me to these people. It's insane to consider my life and how it's all lead up to this moment, and how this moment determines the next. I never thought I'd be so thankful for my existence and all of my experiences, but I am.
This all started about two weeks ago when my brother got married. Even now I'm overcome thinking about it. I think I can honestly say that it changed everything I believe about love. I can barely even describe it, but I saw it in my brother's face when he saw his bride coming down the aisle. That pure, raw expression changed me. I see so much love everywhere I look now; it's almost like his face flipped a switch. My parents divorce affected me more than I was ever willing to acknowledge growing up, and I haven't really trusted myself when it comes to love. Now, however, I feel like I know what it is.
I see it everywhere now and can't believe it's beauty. I understand now that if I trust myself as well as the universe that it will come with time, and I'm totally okay with that. The Supremes were right, I guess haha.
In other news, I haven't finished my manifesto, but I've been painting! I'm currently working on two big ones to debut at my show with Jess at the Dodger in September. I've decided to title it Metanoia, which is the journey of changing one's mind, heart, self, or way of life. Here are some little baby snippets!
So here's the progress on my manifesto! I've got the base layer of 20 rings down and now I'm just adding details. I've included a few close ups of the details I've started. When the piece is complete I'll offer up a complete description!
Well, almost anyway. But the bulk of my stress is over. Today I turn in my teaching portfolio and course binder for my elementary art ed class, which is absolutely the most stressful class I've ever taken. But I did it, and nothing can stop me now!
Here's the cover I made for my teaching portfolio. I suppose you could say that it reflects my opinions of art as well!
On another note, I also finished some of my fibers finals. This is our collaborative embroidery piece. You start with yours and embroider your name, and then pass it along to the next person. Despite how much work everyone did on someone else's work, the original artists were still able to make the embroideries their own. I honestly really enjoyed this project. I did my name, the kantha stiches (the swirly, ripple-y background colors), and the alien spaceship.
So close to finishing this semester. SO. CLOSE.
So I've been thinking a lot today about our perceptions of happiness, bouts of depression and the events that bring on both. It's all about perception. I was listening to Paramore when I caught a lyric that just really spoke to me (again, anyway. This is the lyric that inspired me to get the album artwork from Brand New Eyes tattooed to my thigh.):
"It's all about the exposure, the lense," I told her;
The angles were all wrong, now she's ripping wings off of butterflies.
Which the title in it of itself is part of all of this. Brand New Eyes. I don't know about anyone else, but I honestly thought that butterflies were magical when I was little. I thought that if one landed on you that it was good luck. We build up such idealistic fantasies as children that quickly get ripped apart like the wings off of butterflies and dissected as we get older and come to face the harsh realities of the real world. Which, in a way, aren't really as harsh as we think. It's because our perceptions have changed.
As hard as it is, there is a way to find positivity in any situation. Do not ever get me wrong on this, I know what it's like to be completely losing your mind with depression and anxiety, but it's about perception. And if you want to change your perception on something, find the negative patterns in your life and thoughts. Dissect them. Find your triggers and beat them with a metaphorical hammer. You can overcome this.
For me, it was sensing abandonment. And I could tell when I was sensing it because my throat would get numb and clench itself. It's not the first symptom, but it's definitely the most noticeable. The first would definitely have to be picking at my cuticles, but it's just a constant thing at this point.
The most ridiculous thing about my predicament was that at my worst point, a lot of things made me think people would abandon me. Because I have such a caregiver/mom type personality, I often blame myself for things totally out of my control like a friend being in a bad mood before I even saw them. I told myself that it was my fault that they didn't feel happy. So even when I got a bad grade on a test I would immediately go into panic mode with thoughts about my dad thinking I'm stupid and leaving me out to dry because I'm wasting his money all racing through my head. Even that sentence is jumbled because it made me feel panicky, but I have to talk about these things:
If this post could grace the eyes of any single person that feels like this and it comforts them to know they aren't alone, I can rest peacefully. That's actually why I created my We Are Never Alone series, but that was inspired by a Wonder Years album rather than Paramore. I totally shouldn't get into that though, this novel will triple in length in like two seconds.
TLDR; make a pattern of focusing on the positive and solutions rather than the negative and reactions. A friend once told me that even a bad trip is a good trip because we learn something from bad trips, and that is absolutely no different from life; the times where I was thrown into a situation where I wasn't in control were the times where I really found myself. Without the bad times we wouldn't even know what a good time is.
**EDIT: The work pictured below as well as the Who's Yin? half of my diptych with me and Mary Heather have both been accepted into the JMU Juried Undergrad Show. Yippie!
A ripple in our design causes us to grow. We are like trees with great branches, growing tall and wide. Our pain gives us beauty. Seize opportunity. These ripples are signs. Despite our destinies, we are given the illusion of choice. You can choose joy, you can choose sadness, it's your life.
Yesterday was ridiculously inspiring. A friend started a conversation with me about self-worth, saying that we should essentially never sell ourselves short. In the class I went to after that, I realized that not only have I been negligent to my self-worth, but I have had poor expectations and therefore a lower opinion of others' worth. We were editing mini-lessons we had written and I realized that a great deal of it was under-stimulating because I didn't think kindergarteners could think critically; it wasn't engaging. I was merely asking questions for them to fill in the blanks. They wouldn't be learning anything. And then I thought about art-making itself. 75% of art-making is thought. If I'm not teaching students to think, then how will they come to appreciate art the same way that I do?
No one is ever going to realize their self-worth if they aren't pushed. They won't push themselves if they feel worthless. It's my job as an aspiring educator to inspire them to feel worthy, to try new things, and to grow.
To conclude this post, I decided that last night in my power yoga class, which I knew Jess was cookin' up a tough one, that I was going to push myself farther than I have before. I told myself every time I wanted to rest that I could hold the pose for just one more breath. And you know what? I did for the most part. I was truly surprised. After class Gina , Mary Heather , and I worked on headstands. Even though this is a preliminary shot (we decided to take a picture after I had tired myself out the first time and I couldn't hold still for a clear picture), I was able to raise into a headstand without someone other than the wall helping me. It might seem small to a lot of you, especially since I still needed the wall, but I have never been so proud of myself haha. I always thought I lacked any physical ability. It's not that I didn't try, but I never wanted to keep trying until I got it (like with art). Appreciate even your smallest accomplishments, guys. Go out and build your self-worth!
So, this is my second go around with trying to keep a blog up here, BUT I decided I had some silly things I wanted to say and experiences I wanted to share. You'll probably notice that I won't update this as often as I should, but whatever. It'll probably just be me talking about life, my beliefs, really bad jokes that only I think are funny, and other ramblings. You know, just more things to make my website unprofessional.
Oh, maybe I should start an internet challenge and blog every day like that guy that watched Julie and Julia every day for a year so I can become internet famous, YOU NEVER KNOW.
Anyway, a sculpture class I don't care about is calling my name. Enjoy my blog, y'all. YEE-HAW.
My name is Allison Nickens. I graduated from James Madison University with a BFA in Fine Art in 2015. After graduation I began live painting at music and arts festivals and at local shows, and still continue to show and sell my work around Harrisonburg,VA.
Upcoming Shows & Events
Valley Fusion Festival
Solo Show at The Camel
Solo Show at Restless Moons Brewing