By Evelyn Patricia Terry
After discovering I wanted to be an artist, I planned to plan my life, but I couldn’t create a plan past getting an education, which seemed much more controllable. After that, life seemed “up for grabs.” Though I’ve since learned to rely on visualization and synchronicity to move forward (more about that later), I first entertained the idea of college teaching—both to earn money and because “professor” sounded important.
But I really desired to be like the much-celebrated Picasso, who represented passion, commitment, personal vision and prosperity. There was no mention of African-American artists or women in my classes, so Picasso was it in 1968. Art history was like American history–very little mention of non-white races. I excitedly believed I was going to be the first African-American artist.
After earning one degree, I was informed by some nebulous network that to acquire a job teaching at a college or university, an MFA was a must. I went to Chicago after also being told that universities and colleges did not hire people who graduated from the same institution. Inbreeding of ideas was an issue. I wanted to live in Wisconsin, even though the winters were harsh and heating bills were high, so earning a degree from outside might help.
I married, had two children, and then divorced while the children were young. There are only 24 hours in a day, so I had to release something: art needed eight hours; my children needed at least eight, more on the weekends; and I had to sleep. Producing art was too personally rewarding for me to let go, because of the appearance of “hard times.” Instead, I chose to let my goal of “professor” go, even though I did earn the MFA after divorcing.
An introduction to a church study group for “New Thought” enabled me to embrace being a full-time artist without fear. “New Thought” introduced me to visualization and the philosophy of synchronicity. One of the first things I learned was “do not get a job to acquire health insurance: working to get health insurance is planning to get sick.” I was shocked. Instead I was instructed to look within for my income source and for healing. Have the faith of a mustard seed and choose for “love of” something, rather than “fear of” something. Knowing I could muster up that tiny bit of faith, I committed to being an artist and a mother. I never wanted to feel that my two young children were in the way of producing art or that art was in the way of their total nurturing. I integrated them into the creative process. When they were about 6 and 7, I hired them to assist me. I remember asking about a pastel that I was working on, “Is this finished?” One of them said, “If you have to ask, you know it’s not finished.”
Meditation and positive visualization played a major role in keeping my mind focused on healing. Before 1990, I suffered from bouts of excruciating back pain (sciatica) for about 12 years, along with tooth decay, bronchitis, sinusitis and unsightly painful skin conditions like eczema and acne. After reading many books about the power of consuming juiced raw green vegetables, vitamins, minerals and exercising, I accomplished healing. I secured a great dentist who is also an artist. Presently my health is better than it has ever been.
Synchronicity, concentration on what I want for my life, and positive visualization play major roles, whenever I experience times of lean sales. Among other things, I affirm that art sales are incredible, that I enjoy leading workshops from kindergarten to seniors, and I embrace lecture tours. For six months, I am presently exhibiting abstract artwork from three bodies of work at Cuvée, a champagne and events space in the Third Ward above Artasia Gallery. In the same building, on the second floor at the Rosenblatt Gallery, I am also exhibiting two pieces from my Pandora’s Box series. It is interesting to note that one day after I visualized possibilities for my art to go beyond my studio space, the Cuvée opportunity occurred very synchronistically, through a chance encounter. Although synchronicity and visualization has gotten me this far, I often feel that planning could allow me to reach many other goals–but I don’t know.
Don’t miss Evelyn Patricia Terry’s artwork, on exhibition this month at the Rosenblatt Gallery (ph. 414-220-4292) and at Cuvée (ph. 414-225-9800). Both are located in the Isabella Ryder Building, 181 N. Broadway, Milwaukee. You can also view her work at www.evelynpatriciaterry.com.