On Saturday, October 25th, I’ll participate as an artist in the Center for Girls’ Leadership “Steps to Success: Women in the Arts” event at the Weisman Art Museum.

As part of a panel of women from all areas of the art industry — including Laura Zabel of Springboard for the Arts, Stephany Weiland of Making It With Stephany, and Jan Elftmann of CorkTruck fame — I’ll be sharing my artistic journey with girls in middle and high school looking to explore careers in the arts.

Here are a few of the questions I received from the organizers to prepare for the event.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue a career in the arts?

What achievement are you most proud of and why?

How did being a woman make your career journey unique?

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

What differences do you see for women pursuing a career in the arts as opposed to other fields such as business, science & technology, etc.?

What advice do you have for girls looking to pursue a career in the arts?

What do you think was the most significant, historical milestone for women in your field?

While I’m grateful for the opportunity to respond to these questions — and especially in the context of encouraging leadership in girls — I’m also experiencing full body butterflies as I think about doing this.  After a 30-year career in business that included its share of public speaking and presentations, it’s not about stage fright.  It’s connected more to this being my first public appearance of this type as an artist.

This is not about representing a point of view for an organization, a line of business, or a new campaign.  It’s about representing —

Me.

My creations.  Why I create.  And how it fits into my purpose for being.

To steady myself, I found and re-read a chapter from David Whyte’s book “Crossing the Unknown Sea:  Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.”  This book found me in 2010 when I left my corporate role and set out on my own “unknown sea.”

David’s narration of this point in his own pilgrimage conveys much of what I feel today.

“Making ourselves visible is, in effect, simultaneously arranging for the possibility of our own disappearance.  I had a momentary understanding as I looked out on those upturned faces that there was no way round that disappearance, I just had to keep sight of everything that was appearing before me anew as my old sense of things disappeared.”

2 comments

  1. Wow. Thanks Julie, for your thoughts! And congratulations – what an opportunity! I had a similar experience when I won a songwriting award and was asked to perform it, with a band I’d never worked with, in front of a large crowd. I was terrified, and actually asked for another artist to perform it. The producer of the event spoke these words to me: “Just love the people.” That made all the difference!

    1. Terri, you’re the second person in the last 24 hours to share with me “just love the people.” In receiving this, I feel the invitation of the Christ in our world. The fear in me comes from a perception of distance from others and possibly that the revelation of self will create more distance, experienced as rejection. “Loving the people” is the action that closes this illusion of distance. Thank you Terri!

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