Ambiverts Balance

Mountains in Fog, Machu Pichu, 2007.
For the past few months, I've committed most of my writing to my journals.  To be frank, I struggled after the completion and sharing of my film "Elegy to Connie" with my own introversion.

From Feb. 2014, starting with my screening at Gondo, on through the summer and rest of the year, in a series of screenings locally and out of state, I did a ton of public speaking.  Sharing the film was rewarding, I had moments of connection, where I was so moved by the conversation that the hairs on my arm stood up.  I had moments of conversation, that I never believed possible with people.  I saw friends and family support me in unimaginable ways.  For these things I am thankful.

All the while, being so extroverted, sharing my thoughts in front of audiences, on T.V., and radio, I drained my self.  Yes, I have gratitude.  I am so thankful for the recognition, the sense of legitimacy, and voice, that the screenings and press provided me.  I can say that I did my best sharing the film.

However, I also want to voice the difficulty of being a maker and being your own publicist, director, and secretary.  Making in my studio is generative, I become curious about new ideas.  I enter flow states and get lost, I imagine it is like for some people the equivalent of meditation or an athletic high.  Being alone in my studio creates energy for me.  Public speaking drains energy from me.  After a screening, I relive the experience, it is as if I absorb all the energy in the room and have to release it before I can sleep.

Submerged, Collage, 2004.
To make the work I want to make, sharing the pieces, is a part of the process that I accept.  I am realizing ways in which I don't nurture the introverted part of myself, ways that I value or push the extrovert more.  This is hard because as an artist, I sometimes feel only as good as the last project I worked on, or to restate, I feel best when I have a new idea I am exploring in my studio.  Spending time externally sharing the film, almost makes it harder to get in the studio and make new things, to be alone with myself, when that is probably what I need most. 

I recently discovered the word ambivert- a person whose personality has a balance of extroverted and introverted features.  This idea sits with me.  On one hand, I love to be with friends, to attend openings, and to teach in front of people.  I generally am okay with public speaking.  I gravitate towards attending communal events like concerts and parades.  On the other hand, I can get worn out by large crowds, and  after I've taught all day, I don't want to be around people.  I dislike small talk and find it brings out my own social anxiety.  But... If I've spent my entire day at the studio, I want to be social.  My husband is a total introvert, he can spend all day alone in his studio, and he will still be happy alone.    I think for him, his needs are a little clearer around socialization.  For me, sometimes I honestly don't know, and I don't recognize every time when I've crossed my introverted boundary.

There are ways I value the extroverted parts of myself more than my introverted. On a typical Friday night,  I like the part of me that goes out with friends and attends events.  I don't like the part of me that sits on the couch and watches Netflixs, that just makes me feel a little sad.

I've been a little ashamed that the past year, I've felt so introverted.   I have not wanted to be in a public role, beyond teaching.  The thought of sharing my film publicly has felt painful and routine.  I haven't wanted to go out to openings as much, and when I do I want to look at the art, connect with a few friends and then leave.  I've missed openings, events, and parties,  I feel a little disconnected.   

In contrast
My studio has felt amazing.  Well sure, there are still all the studio "ghosts" saying things like, "will this amount to anything?", "shouldn't you be making an animation", "painting is dead", or "why make anything", but once I get beyond those fear voices, I'm having fun.  I'm learning new things.  I play with collage.  I draw with colored pencils.  I try combining strange images.  I follow through on paintings that feel like terrible starts and I laugh at them.   I'm thinking about myself in context with the world, my ancestors, and the U.S. history of race.  I'm reading books, like how I used to read in 5th grade, when I would become so in tune with the writing and story that I had to complete it in one setting.  I am happy making things and exploring new ideas.

Venus of the Cave
With the New Year, my extrovert has slowly shown up again, I'm feeling a little more comfortable sharing myself and my ideas outwardly.  Learning is energizing for me and I am engaging with new communities.  All that time in my studio I think has helped.

So I plan in the next few months to write here, more publicly, about my studio practice, myself, and the community I care about, with transparency and vulnerability.    

Studio in Process: Man tames Nature- Extinction Kingdom


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