The Problem with Labels

Eckhart Tolle says, “Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life.”

For the sake of this blog I have labeled myself an artist. But I could just as well call myself a cook, or a gardener or any number of other creative endeavors in which I engage. When cooking, I am a cook, when gardening, I am a gardener. When painting, I am an artist.

Contrary to the impression you may have gotten in my last post, where I talked about the benefits of being a quitter, I am not advocating you be a dilettante, although I’m pretty sure that is what I am. I admire those who with a single powerful focus master their chosen field, or medium. I enjoy the fruits of their excellence. However, I am not one of those people as I suspect many of us are not. I have experimented with many roles in my life and in art with many mediums. I have been daughter, sister, wife, lover, student, teacher, friend and loner. I have experimented with clay, fabric, paper, paint, colored pencil and digital mediums in my art. So what should I call myself? new label


Am I a Ceramist and nothing else, or a Collage Artist? But then I discovered colored pencil and so then I must be a Colored Pencil Artist. Currently I am enamored of digital art…Each of my experiences in life and each of these mediums have taught me a great deal. So my question is at what point are we to stop playing and exploring and trying new things?


I realize this lack of commitment does not fit well in our focused product driven society but I would like to propose there are more people like me in this world than we know whose voices are silenced .

So you go to a social gathering and are asked “what do you do?” I immediately resent this question and am inclined to answer, “I go to parties and answer stupid questions”,

but mostly I just don’t go anywhere.

It would be easy to assume I resent the question because I have not found success in a chosen field, but I suspect success breeds its own resentments. Because you are then put in a box defined by your success. Just ask famous movie stars or musicians, who dare to assert their right to paint pictures or write poetry, or pursue any other interest outside of what we expect them to be. I feel one reason behind a fear of success is the fear of being trapped. Success, as it is defined in our society can kill the spirit, and deep down we all know this to be true.

The word Dilettante has a negative connotation, but it was not always so. It used to be associated with the pursuit of knowledge simply for the beauty of knowledge, not for what it may earn. In fact the root of the word Dilettante comes from the Latin ‘to delight’. And it is with this perspective that those of us, who are Masters of None, can accept the spirit of curiosity and playful discovery to be a good and wonderful thing!


word source

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