Today I have the honor of introducing to you Marisa Gomez. I truly can't say enough nice things about her. She is a delightful young lady with a beautiful family. She creates from her heat and soul, you can see it in every piece she creates.
So in her own words,
Hi, I'm Marisa, and I'm an artist.
What you don't see behind those words is me shifting from one foot to another, blushing uncomfortably. You see, I have a picture in my mind of what an artist is, and deliberately inviting you to think of me in those terms makes self-conscious. And yet, in the past year, discovering that I'm an Artist--not merely a Hobbyist, or Evening and Weekend Crafter, or Loyal Craft Store Customer--has been one of the truest explorations of my identity in my lifetime.
This month, I did the most daring thing an artist can do: I went public. I opened an Etsy shop. Exposing your art publicly and putting a price against its value requires equal amounts of humility and pride, and it took me nine months to prepare a line of products and simultaneously get up my nerve.
Part of the problem was finding my medium. I've been jumping from one creative channel to another my entire life: bead lizards in second grade (50 cents each, the sign on my desk informed classmates), novelty yarn scarfs in junior high (I regret to admit), piano and choral performance in high school, writing in college, and fiber/textile arts in the last decade. Friends and family gush over the cross stitch samplers, crocheted doilies, knitwear and weavings I churn out, but no single craft or medium has held the answer to my creative unrest. And, practically speaking, none have seemed lucrative enough to move beyond the old familiar (read: yet another) cowl or scarf for my near and dear.
Soft and pliant fibers and textiles capture my heart and hands most, but I also have a very real love of gemstones, clay, ceramic, glass and wood. Enter the world of soutache jewelry: where all of these materials can combine in a one-of-a-kind, pocket-sized, wearable piece of art that delights the senses of sight and touch. The moment I saw a piece of soutache jewelry on Etsy, it clicked. This was my medium. (At least, for the moment!)
Soutache (SOO-tash) is a narrow, herringbone-woven ribbon that has been used for centuries to adorn military paraphernalia and elaborate evening-wear and wedding gowns. In the past few decades, it has gained popularity among bead artists, resulting in stunning, delightful, one-of-a-kind jewelry like the pieces I share in my shop.
As soon as I spotted that first piece of soutache jewelry, my hands burned to start creating, so I excitedly researched the necessary materials. Among them, Nicole's Beadbacking came up again and again, so I ordered some in every color, naively unsure of what to do with it at first. As my confidence and pieces grew, the value of Nicole's BeadBacking became evident since it remained flexible while holding up to a serious beating as I design and correct my work.
Each new piece of soutache jewelry I create inspires ten more, and I can't keep up with my own imagination. If that's not the sign of a good art, I don't know what is.
My Etsy shop opening coincides with quitting my job as a language education researcher and assuming full-time care of my two boys, age 2 and under. In some ways, my kids save me from that uncomfortable exchange about being an artist, and in others, they empower me to say it with full eye contact. Every time I finish a piece and hand it to my 2-year-old, he oohs and ahhs and "wow!"s like its the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. (Let's face it--It probably is). If I get half that reaction from a new customer, it'll be worth it. If I don't, then I'll keep doing it for me. Because fulfillment of the artist is at the heart of art, anyway, and I can say that with confidence.
Honor and integrity in art, in life.