My #1 Fan

Yup, that's right, it's YOU!

This is going to be one of those really personal posts. It may or may not have anything to do with art but indirectly, it will. There may be a sprinkling of frustration with a dash of cynicism. Just going to free write and hoping to edit as little as possible. I’m sure there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s a Trompe-l’oeil painted light. I’ll take anything to keep my spirits and motivation going this year!

People have asked what I studied in school or what I’m studying* when I tell them I have an art writing blog. As encouraging and delighted as people get, it’s becoming more and more apparent that I can no longer be a patron of the arts. Sure, I went to art school for a couple of years (a few years after graduating from college and working steadily) and found out it wasn’t the environment for me. I needed more and I wasn’t getting what I needed – critical dialogue and a way to frame my thoughts around art theory and history. I tried to do graphic design and illustration to be ‘practical’ about the arts. None of my logic around studying those disciplines worked. At the moment, I’m about half way done with my post baccalaureate certificate from the UC Berkeley Extension but I’m afraid that hankering for grad school (specifically, environments where I can study Visual Criticism, American Studies (emphasis on Art), Critical Theory and the Arts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) will persist. Essentially, navigating around where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going has proven to be quite the task. A friend put it best the other day, I’m reaching a crossroads and trying to figure out the best way to be engaged with the things I do while pursuing my passions. Tough, real tough.

Art, well, is the one thing in my life that’s been a constant [insert violin playing here]. It never fails me (unless you count that time in illustration class where a talented albeit crotchety teacher scarred me for life, no, I’m not sharing details) and always forces me to think critically and see how different artists have imbued their experiences and knowledge into their work so I can have a greater understanding of, well, history, politics, sexuality, culture, tradition, and more. Bottom line: I’m really starting to prepare myself financially and emotionally for separation (from corporate life – not anytime in the near future but within the next couple of years – at this point, I’m not sure). Check in with me a year from now to see where I’m at…

Optimism isn’t the problem. It’s being fearless that has me stuck. Talk about going against the grain! I’ve already taken in Buddhist thinking within my (really) Catholic family. I’m a vegetarian (in a Filipino family). I mean, shrimp and a little bit of pork for flavoring doesn’t count as full on meat!! Going back to grad school and studying art when my family thinks I should have children (well, let’s not even get into that one)… 

Yup, I have no choice but to continue telling myself I’m awesome. A good friend told me once, “You’ve got to be your own #1 fan. At least, you’ve got one”. Yet, the way goals and ambitions are looking, I’m gonna need more than just myself.

* For the record, I double majored in Philosophy and Psychology. Yes, I know, my Mom should have just sent me to art school (just like I begged asked her to). 

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

4 thoughts on “My #1 Fan”

  1. Hmmmm….. The words I am reading here seem to be written by someone that is pretty involved with what she is passionate about. Having many paths to choose from isn’t always a bad thing (in my opinion) because you get to have a glimpse into what might be… or what could be. It is not always for one to know how one will feel about some particular experience or particular thing latter on in the future, but it can be tough sometimes when one does reach a plateau and does take a look back at something that was once desired but never obtained. However, knowing what one knows and doing what one does is important to reinforce one’s view of one’s self. Your friend’s message is a good one, for sure. In my experience, the corporate world isn’t always the greatest world, and with your Buddhist experience you might have already figured that out. I feel that being true to one’s self reigns supreme over all other aspects or qualities. Selfish? Not if you consider that when you are you and no one else can be you, then you are better positioned to give back and help the others that you are compassionate about. Passion gives birth to compassion, and I believe that the corporate world’s brand of passion seldom breeds anything other than hard-currency. Unless of course there’s that compassion for paying customers, lol. I hope my message doesn’t seem dictating or whatever, because I’m just, in a sense, free-writing my feelings from your free-written post. Do take care.

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