Those First Few Steps


The last few weeks have been full of activity both in and outside of the studio. I woke up one day with an idea and by the time my feet hit the floor I had decided to bring it to life. So much of what I’m doing is new to me these days in my work as an emerging artist. The minute I stop and think about everything I don’t know it’s easy to get paralyzed by fear. I’ve been building my practice slowly and deliberately these last few months to keep that fear from overwhelming me. So imagine my surprise when I woke up thinking “Wow, this would be a cool idea for an exhibit,” and within 12 hours I had materials in hand.

That evening I felt a strong sense of accomplishment, more so than I’ve felt in a while. I couldn’t pinpoint why, since all I had done was purchase some materials. I was excited…but puzzled, because somehow, this day felt like a breakthrough. I hadn’t even sorted out what this work was going to BE, other than my very rough idea. Yet I’d gone ahead and purchased what I needed to start creating it with zero hesitation!

The people closest to me weren’t remotely surprised that I went from idea to action in less than a day. “That’s how you’ve always been,” someone said. They pointed to several examples of work I’d done at various points during my career. Organizing volunteer projects, creating public safety initiatives, designing handbags, making a documentary film…all things born on days when I woke up with a runaway idea. I thought back to those days, those moments, and then all of sudden it hit me: my best work has always followed that zero-hesitation headfirst approach. The only thing that’s changed is the context! Taking careful, tentative steps helps when I need to slow down and learn, but this super-charged leap into something unknown, well…that’s my mind’s way of saying “It’s ON!”

Suddenly I’m in familiar territory. Sort of. Do I know how to build an exhibit from nothing? Nope. Do I know where it’s going to go? Heck no. The list of things I don’t know is long, but what I do know is that it’s in progress. I gave myself a 30-day timeline to get the first piece of this work created. Thanks to my amazing network of friends and family (who clearly understand my process better than I do) it’s almost done. I have already acquired a few new skills such as using sandpaper and treating salvaged wood. I’ve also been dusting off a few of my old skills, such as doing research and conducting interviews. Since I braved those first 12 hours everything that idea sparked has somehow clicked into place. This work draws from what matters most to me: advocacy, safety and art. I can’t wait to share it…stay tuned for more!

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Faith Kohler aka "Truglue Artist"

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Material Studios + Gallery
207 E. Buffalo St. #600
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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