As an advocate for both girls and the arts, I found the event incredibly inspiring. I found five main takeaways that apply not only to artists but to everyone.
Be willing to be vulnerable and take risks.
Creating something and putting it out in the world, whether it is a photo, a performance, or something entirely non-art related is a frightening experience. Is it good enough? and Will it be well received? are questions many artists wrangle with. Stephany Wieland, who has many passions but focuses primarily on wedding photography and crafty YouTube videos, says “shooting a YouTube video is the most embarrassing thing I've ever done.” She “bares her guts” on camera and continues to do so because it feeds her spirit. White is a woman who wears many hats including rapper and DJ, street fashion and music performance photographer, mother of two and student. White finds that the achievements that push her out of her comfort zone, such as performing at early in the morning at the CGL event, are the ones that she is most proud of.
Sarah White advises girls to only take on projects that feel good and inspire and push your art forward. If you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, you will never have the time to do the things that make you feel motivated, engaged, and happy. She also concedes as a working mom, often the only time she has to work on her craft is late at night and early in the morning.
Be comfortable with starting something and not being good at it.
Jan Elftmann, artist and director of ArtCar Parade, advises girls to “work, work, work.” Learning an art medium, as well as any new skill, takes time. (Malcolm Gladwell estimates it takes a person 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to gain mastery in a given skill.) Says Elftmann, “Art is a language. Find the best way for you to communicate your ideas to others.”
Welcome the obstacles.
Laura Zabel, actor and executive director of Springboard for the Arts, feels unfulfilled if she doesn't have something to “untangle.” As a young woman with little experience, Zabel struggled with ageism when she first started running Springboard. She had to prove herself by working hard and by doing a good job. Says Zabel on art, “Creativity blooms when there are parameters and limits. Sit in the moment of challenge.”
Pay attention to the things you love and care about.
For Julie Ann Stevens spent 30 years in business before doing a 180 and pursuing art as a full-time job. Stevens takes inspiration from nature, “Art is all about creating something that lives outside of you and others can receive.”
Anna Bottila spent several years as an educator at Laura Jeffrey Academy, a girl-focused STEM school in St. Paul. She is passionate about empowering girls through education and extracurricular opportunities and closing the achievement gap. Anna is also an advocate for the arts and serves on the Board of Directors for Altered Esthetics (Ae), a community arts organization located in Northeast Minneapolis. When Anna isn't hanging out with sassy middle schoolers or volunteering for Ae, she is usually organizing parties for friends, doing yoga, or planning her next travel adventure.