At 55 years old, I have a file folder stuffed with rejection letters from art shows, scholarship applications and workshop proposals. I am used to rejection. Heck, I have 4 sons who went through adolescence at the same time, I know what rejection feels like.
I had entered my large mixed media collage of two pots of flowers that seemed perfect for a hospital setting. However, the people who choose the art for the wall of the facility passed my beautiful collage by. Didn’t they understand the break though I’d had while making it? Slicing up gorgeous monoprints to get the precise, mottled colors for the leaves and writing with a fine tip marker a stream of consciousness text all over the base of the pot? Many other artists sold their artwork in the group show, mostly landscapes, but I did not.
Surprisingly, I feel like this rejection is my first one. I feel personally wounded, as though I have been rejected…”they” don’t like ME. Even though I know, intellectually, this is not the case, my little, sensitive heart is bruised. I even go into the bathroom and cry.
Usually, after receiving a rejection letter I pop right into positive self-talk about the good things that have happened along the way. For instance, taking a trip to Manchester with my husband to deliver the art, or meeting with old friends who live in the area on our way home. I might decide that talking with another artist about some new material or sharing a good contact has made the whole event worthwhile.
But instead of immediately skipping over the feelings caused by the rejection experience I’m letting myself wallow a bit, cry if I want to. Again reflecting on what happened during the jury process, looking at the art I created and remembering what the hospital bought. I feel so sad. I wanted to share this piece with a wider audience and had even spent money on a fancy frame. I tell myself it’s okay to be disappointed, I don’t always have to be transformed about it.