The Vulnerability of Exposure

Johnny Kerr Abstractions Exhibit at Monorchid Bokeh Gallery

 I am writing this on the morning of my first solo photography exhibition opening! My stomach is in knots with excitement and anxiety. Those who know me well know that I am a very analytical and introspective person, a trait which is a double-edged sword. I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, just candid.

Introspection fosters a strong self-awareness and it is one of the primary driving forces that pushes me towards positive growth in all areas of my life. It also stimulates severe self-criticism. On a good day this serves well to keep me humble so that I keep learning and growing. On a bad day, when not carefully balanced, it becomes an oppressive adversary and leads to inertia. I’ve experienced the entire spectrum of these symptoms over and again on a minute-by-minute basis in the last few weeks leading to the opening reception of my exhibit tonight.

The hardest thing about being an artist is putting your work out there to be judged. Every person who views art it is indeed making a judgment call. This might be as simple as “I like this” or “I don’t like this” based solely on personal taste, or it could be a thorough and intelligent analysis provided by someone well-versed in art principles. Either way, it is a vulnerable place to be and artists spend a lot of time here.

It is confusing to receive praise one moment and rejection the next; to have a local magazine pass on promoting my work while a magazine in another country prints an eight page spread about me and my work. One tastes bitter and the other sweet. To be bluntly honest, I’m still struggling with learning how to be grateful in these situations and not let the sense rejection from one entity trump the sense of validation from another. I know that shows immaturity on my part and represents an area where I need to pursue growth but that’s why I am writing today. I need to process this stuff so I can learn. I can’t let rejection shut me down, and accepting a compliment takes just as much grace, strength and humility as accepting rejection.

If anyone is reading this I hope your take-away isn’t that I’m in any way unhappy or ungrateful. On the contrary, my overall emotions about today really are quite positive and less complicated than the above self-inquiries likely suggest. But the feelings of excitement are not as difficult to process as the other challenges I’ve outlined above so this post has focused more on the messy struggles I am trying to wade through to pursue growth.

As I wrap this up I want to clearly convey that, aside from the normal pre-show jitters, I am mostly feeling elated, grateful, and humbled that I find myself about to share my artwork with thousands of people from my home state. I am extremely thankful to MonOrchid Gallery and curator Nicole Royse for investing in me and believing in my work. Here’s to a new learning experience and to making new connections with people!

Abstractions Gallery Exhibit Vinyl Wall
Photograph by Nicole Royse, 2015