Sculpting the Sculptor

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By ‘sculpting the sculptor’ I don’t mean a self portrait, but rather working on my real flesh and blood self moment by moment day by day month by month year by year decade by decade until death do me part. It’s not rocket science, but more like gardening…hacking away at what I don’t want, planting and cultivating attributes I do want. Nor is it usually very interesting or exciting; more often it’s boring and tedious, like weeding. And, like weeding, once isn’t enough. The weeds keep coming back.

So every day I’m alive, entropy happens, and it’s up to me to take proactive steps to counter it.

I’m encouraged to persevere in my biological sculpting efforts by research in the field of neuroplasticity, defined on Wikipedia as follows:

Neuroplasticity (also known as cortical re-mapping) refers to the ability of the human brain to change as a result of one’s experience, that the brain is ‘plastic’ and ‘malleable’. The discovery of this feature of the brain is rather modern; the previous belief amongst scientists was that the brain does not change after the critical period of infancy.

If I’m diligent in my efforts to supplant negative traits with better ones, I’m actually changing the structure of my brain. Sculpting neurons.

I’m bringing up this topic because this past weekend we had a lot of folks come to our first ever event in our new space (thank you one and all, it was a big success!), and I noticed how much it took out of me to talk about my work and/or show people my in-process work in my new studio space. Part of me would rather keep all that to myself until the work is completed. But I know I appreciate it when other artists open up about their process, their insecurities, their energy swings, so it’s not fair for me not to. I’d like to get past the reticence though, grow thicker skin…get to the point where such experiences energize me rather than drain me. I can use the vague sense of inadequacy stirred up by such interactions to spur me to dig even deeper, work even harder to develop my creative skills and work habits. To develop a lattice of neurons robust enough to shake off occasional scrutiny, whether from my own inner critic or studio visitors.

I think part of the issue is that I create work for myself, not for “the public.” I’m just not much of a social animal, I guess…I’d rather let my sculpture do the talking.


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