dot 16: vulnerability

 The act of making something new makes us vulnerable.

    Lisa Sonora Beam

I have always been acutely aware of the differences between various artists, which, in my view, can be categorized into two main groups. There are those that appear to be super-confident (Group A) and those that appear to be shy (Group B). It is fair to say that those that are shy, as I am, are more likely to feel vulnerable. But the question that I grapple with is whether the super-confident artist is also vulnerable? And, if they are, is the experience of vulnerability the same for them? Are there degrees of vulnerability? If what Lisa Sonora Beam is saying is true for all creatives because of art[making]  itself, should Group A not be exhibiting vulnerability also? This issue honestly confuses me.

The vulnerability that is associated with shyness can be debilitating. In Creative Visualization Ronald Stone dedicates an entire chapter to this disabling state, addressing ways to deal with this by way of creative visualization. Stone, drawing on work done by Philip G. Zimbardo, goes on to talk about people who are shy ‘only in very specific circumstances’ or ‘with very specific people’ which is called being specifically shy. Stone gives the example of a lecturer that is perfectly capable of lecturing in front of large audiences but may be shy to speak at a wedding. Drawing from own experience, the circumstances that trigger high levels of vulnerability for me are both opening nights and when I need to speak about my work. The people who trigger the roller-coaster are often gallery owners and/or gallery managers. I am otherwise a perfectly confident person if not engaging with galleries, opening nights or having to give personal speeches.

Needless to say, I am hampered by this problem. According to Stone, shyness is environmentally determined which means that you learn to be shy and it can therefore be unlearned. This is good news. To unlearn requires a program of change which primarily involves addressing negative thinking.

A useful trick described by Stone is playing with the idea that an ‘evil duplicate’ of yourself has somehow been created. In order that others do not confuse you with this undesirable duplicate, you need to convince them of your uniqueness.

 As a specifically shy artist (Group B) I shall be practicing for the next upcoming art event.

Anyone care to join?

  • Ronald Stone:
  • Creative Visualization (1984) The Aquarian Press / ISBN 1 85538 3276


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