Am I an artist?

I had some writers around me growing up. In my mind, to me, a writer was someone who wrote. Who got paid for writing. A professional. In general, this is how I used labels. I played music, quite a bit, but I wasn’t a musician because I was not professionally (or semi-professionally) one. I get a little annoyed when people declare themselves poets or writers or artists or musicians. Do you perform? I want to ask them. Is your work published somewhere? Where can I read it? An unreasonable response at best, as by and large we need to accept self-definition.

When someone declares themselves a runner, there is no question to it. They run. Cyclists and bikers are also only definable by the self, especially in cases where a person prefers one term over the other.

I won an art grant and for the night of the reception, I was an artist. Everyone told me I was an artist. Everyone called me an artist. When I recently saw a “Call for Pittsburgh Artists,” I wondered what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Artist, and then I wondered what it meant to be an artist. I have little room to try and claim myself as belonging to Pittsburgh (the adjectival form of the nominal). Pittsburgh, I sometimes think, belongs to me. A special part of it. I no longer live there and have lost my right to claim Yinzer just as I have lost my right to Philadelphian–especially as I claim myself a Somerville resident. I belong to Somerville.

Am I an artist? I ask myself this sometimes. I find the label stumbling out, it being the easiest thing to grab. I paint. I sculpt. I grow plants. I do all of these things and have reasons and commentary behind them. I am trying to capture what it feels like to breathe, I say. These are the colors of my existential crisis, I explain. This is what you look like to me, I said to someone, showing them a field of blue and green, rubbed into canvas until the sides of my thumbs were blistered. I just, I want to drink paint and scream until I cough. I need to see what my screaming looks like. I now have a piece of fabric, stained brown and green and so painfully lacking the red I wanted. Don’t you ever just want to cover yourself in paint, in oil and dust, so you can scrape it off? And then you ask someone to take pictures.


Here they are. The files are named not with their actual names out of laziness.


My birthday is in May. Like everyone, I have thoughts on age and time and meaning. I’ll share them with you if you’d like. Just ask.

As part of this, I am getting rid of some stuff I’ve made in the past year. This contains approximately seventeen paintings and two photosets. I am giving things away; anything left by the end of the month is going to be destroyed.

If you want a painting, you can have it. If you’d like it shipped to you, you pay shipping. If you’re local, I’ll deliver it to you by bicycle. I’ll even wear a hat. You are welcome to come pick up things.

Paintings are on canvas, unstretched and unframed. I can arrange for framing if you’d like (at cost to you.) I will retain photographs of paintings.

On photos: I have some photosets. These were done in collaboration with two local photographers. As far as I know, they have copies of the photos. If you would like a photo (or photos), you have the following options: 1) I will get them printed (at cost to you) and/or 2) I will give you a copy of the files. Any of these given away will then be deleted from my computer. Photographers may still retain copies. If you would like to see the complete photosets, drop me a line and we can meet up.

As photos of everything become available, I will post them. (Photo will be removed once a piece is claimed if the claimer requests it.) You can get a peek by browsing through the “art” tag. If you claim a piece, I will tell you about it if you’d like.