Wise Words: Keep the Channel Open
In my very first college studio art class, the instructor asked us to write a paper about a “line”. That’s it. I wrote about my journey with art up to that point, and confessed my insecurities as an artist.
I felt like my skills weren’t good enough.
No one would ever pay me to make art.
I felt creatively stuck (and I was for several years).
That paper came back with another one stapled to it, and this is what it said:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
— Martha Graham (emphasis added)