I'm fairly certain 2022 will always be the year I mark as the major transition point in my career of being a professional artist. And because of the fact that I now know I have always been an artist, have been created from the beginning to be someone who could conjure beauty and communicate ideas to you without words, I can say 2022 is the year I finally grew up. At long last I know the answer to what I want to be when I grow up. I am actively being it, and I've never felt more like a kid on perpetual summer break!
I began framing my silk art in 2021 for the first time. Although I had painted many large scale art banners over the years, they were always created on commission and always installed on a rod. I sold three pieces of my framed work last year, the third selling into the private collection at the Frankfort (Indiana) Library. I knew walking into 2022 I was going to allow myself to leave behind what had been a persistent and distracting focus on developing the gift line for the Carrie Wright Silk business in order to pursue my passion simply to create great art. I never would have guessed back in January when I was developing my innovative technique for creating what is now my Silk Diary Series that a whopping 19 pieces of my framed fine art would sell this year.
I knew I was on the right track when I had a major supporter of my work ask for a private viewing of my newest pieces this past March. She went home with what is now, according to her recent report, her favorite thing to look at every day! I then created a gallery space in my booth at the 2022 Indiana Artisan Marketplace, the first Marketplace held since 2019. (Many of you might already know that the 2019 event was my first ever art fair vendor experience.) It was deeply encouraging to see my framed work sell there this year, to see your reactions to encountering the work, to watch a grin of enjoyment develop into a smile of wonder and to field all of your curious questions about how in the world I created these pieces.
When another large order for hand-painted scarves for the Indiana Governor's office came through right before the Marketplace, I knew I'd be pressed for time to create something special to send to the jury for the 98th Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibition. I managed to accomplish three pieces I was proud to submit, and one of the three was accepted. That piece sold on opening night to the Tri Kappa Sorority, and I am told it will likely hang in Rose-Hulman's John A. Logan library. I am deeply honored by this and giddy to know I created something that is sitting in a highly valuable private collection of a major institution! As it was an awkward size for inserting a photo here, roughly 14"x40", I'll share the not so flattering photo of me snapped at the exhibition opening. Here is How I see Light.
After creating all of the art for that submission as well as two pieces for the Hoosier Salon Good 'Ole Summertime Exhibit, I had just a few days to prep for my first in-person silk painting workshop with two advanced silk painting students. Having never hosted a workshop like this before, I wasn't sure what to expect or how successful I would be as a teacher. As prepared as one can attempt to be, there's just no teacher like experience. My two students were a total joy to teach, and I was re-awakened to the knowledge that I LOVE teaching! They both gave me some fantastic pointers for next time, and I hope if you are a silk painter reading this that you might consider one of my two upcoming 2023 workshops. You will learn valuable insights in color theory and how to apply that knowledge to mixing dye colors, how to use layers of color and wax to create more depth in your work, and many other tools you can put to use in pursuing your own artistic goals. I include the cost of supplies and meals in my weekend workshop rate knowing that it is much more enjoyable for you if your only responsibilities are to get here, learn and have fun!
Immediately after the June workshop, I decided at the last minute to enter two pieces in the Indiana State Fair professional art exhibit. Being an Indiana Artisan, it seemed like a natural fit, and we were encouraged as artisans by our executive director to enter. I've never done anything like that, but figured this would be yet another opportunity to gauge reactions to my fine art efforts. What a surprise to learn my piece, Light Be, won the first place ribbon in the Fiber Arts division! Here's a photo of that along with me holding my granddaughter who got to see it on display at the same time I did. (Light Be was purchased this fall by a local patron of my work.)
Over the past three years, I've had several people ask me if I have any online courses. I had determined at the beginning of January that 2022 would be the year I accomplished that mission. Now already in August, the year was getting away from me to do so, and I had an upcoming opportunity looming in October to have a solo exhibition at Gordy Fine Art and Framing Company here in Muncie. I say, "looming" because I knew I didn't have enough art in house to fill the wall, but was determined to take a stab at putting together a silk painting for beginners course. I gave myself a three week deadline to get it completely finished and launched, an incredibly difficult task to achieve in such a short amount of time. Somehow I managed to pull together what I believe is the course I wish I could have taken when I was first starting out! The day after launching the course, I had my tiny studio transformed from video production back to art making space and began creating several new pieces for the Gordy exhibit. I also went to New Harmony, Indiana to pick up my work from the Hoosier Salon where one of my two pieces, Smoke and Mirrors in 185 Pieces, earned an Honorable Mention.
By the first of September, it was finally occurring to me that maybe my work was getting strong enough to enter the Richmond Art Museum's Annual Exhibition. All of that month was spent making new framed art while in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "Christmas is right around the corner!" All of you have made December my most profitable month of online sales, as is normal for a gift business, and I never want to disappoint you with a meager product selection. However, something had to be sacrificed. I'm one person doing every single thing you can imagine pertaining to Carrie Wright Silk including all of my own framing! So, I just kept making art. And I'm so glad I did too because much of what I made in September sold in the last quarter of the year!
The Gordy exhibit was a great success! Batik Genome Map, which won first place in 2021 at the Hoosier Salon Good 'Ole Summertime Exhibit and is pictured at the top middle of this post, was purchased by a local patron I was grateful to finally meet just a few weeks ago. This was my first major piece of non-commissioned art to sell and one of my favorite pieces I've created in my Meditation on the Creation Series.
A few other pieces sold at Gordy too, and it was during this time that I learned both of my pieces were accepted in the Richmond Art Museum Annual Exhibition. The opening for the exhibition happened to be the same week Dan and I were already planned to be out of town in our favorite ocean-side spot, Topsail, NC, so I did not have the pleasure of hearing my name announced for the Purchase Award from Three Rivers Federal Credit Union. (I learned recently they also purchased my second piece, Primitive Hymn #453, Scroll Fragment!) Imagine the joy, though, of sitting at the ocean and learning that back home someone purchased your art at a regional museum exhibition opening! It was the next day that I found out two of my pieces were accepted into the 33rd Annual Juried Art Show at the Minnetrista Museum. I forced myself to leave work behind while at the beach and to fully soak in the place that rejuvenates me like no other knowing that when I got back, I had to immediately take work over to the Frankfort Library for their annual Friends of Frankfort event and pick up all my work from Gordy's. Here's a photo of the first piece of mine purchased at the Richmond Art Museum, The Moment the Clock Started Ticking, which I think is either very fortuitous or foreboding depending upon one's perspective!
Also during this time, I had worked out a scheme for having my very first Carrie Wright Silk Pop Up Shop in downtown Muncie. My original intent was to open for just ten days starting on Shop Small Saturday and encompassing Muncie's tree lighting the following Thursday plus that weekend. I was talked into opening before Thanksgiving being promised that those three days before the holiday are big shopping days downtown. I'm glad they didn't turn out to be busy because it gave me the chance to tweak my shop setup to get it just right as well as allowed me to get more settled into the new rhythm of being shop keeper again. A big shout out to the lovely Misty who made my opening day by purchasing not only a deluxe silk travel bag, but this piece of art that was obviously intended for specifically her without me even knowing it, titled GMO Seed of Life.
What a tremendous success Shop Small Saturday turned out to be- THANK YOU, MUNCIE! I did well enough my first 10 days that when the owner of the building offered to let me continue renting up until Christmas, my husband and I decided to take the leap of faith and pay the hefty rent to stay in the prime downtown retail location. I'm so thankful we did as it ended up being a total success in every way. Not only did I sell a significant amount of my work, but the reception from the shopping public was deeply encouraging and telling. Muncie needs and wants a gift shop like the one I created. I even had two lovely supporters drive all the way from Zionsville and Carmel together to shop my little store and others in downtown! (last photo at top) I also picked up a promise of three commissions for 2023 which I very much look forward to getting started on. Now husband Dan and I know that the business ideas we've had have a real shot at being a successful enterprise.
All of the events of the year have culminated in a strong focus on a clear vision for 2023. I have secured a new website domain and am in the process of creating a separate website for my fine art. Bear with me as I work on accomplishing that while also attempting to bring this Carrie Wright Silk website back up to date with all available in-stock inventory. Also, Dan and I have a very strong business plan for how to be successful in opening a viable downtown storefront with a mix of retail, education and private working studio space complete with special art events. Although the right space has not yet presented itself to us, we are keeping our eyes peeled for just the right spot at just the right time. We are both hopeful that spot becomes clear to us sooner than later as we are tearing at the seams of our respective home studio spaces! Stay tuned!
In parting, I have to say one more time how deeply grateful I am to all of you who travel along with me on this silk painting life adventure. I would lose steam quickly if I didn't have you cheering me on, connecting with my work in a personal way, and genuinely wanting to see what it is I'm up to next! Thank you always sounds so flimsy to me, and I wish there was a way to impart to all of you the profound joy and peace I have in creating the art that I do. My pledge to you is to always be honest in the work, to give you everything I've got to give artistically, and to always be striving to make the most beautiful things I know how to in order to bring some life and color to your days! Here's to the next stage of our journey together and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!