Mom’s: Little do they know they can be a cornerstone for your self-esteem.
During a recent visit to my mom’s house, I was using the full-length mirror in her bedroom to find satisfaction in some unlikely pairing of clothing. I looked over at her jewelry chest and my heart raced a little when I saw that all of the jewelry on her #dressertop was jewelry I had made. A super-warm, yummy-love feeling came over me viewing this recently worn display of favored jewels. If ever I had doubts that my mom was proud of me, they all went away at that moment.
Just above the chest is a watercolor of the Oregon coast I painted (say 25 years ago) and tucked between the glass and the frame rests the first branded card from my gift jewelry collection. On the top right corner hangs a pendant (she still wears) from my first collection, Resin & Woods.
Shortly after (same day at mom’s), I was reading an article in the AARP Magazine about Melissa McCarthy. The cover story was an interview with her and her mom, confirming just how important the support one’s mother has on the success of their daughters.
Even now, Melissa gets tears in her eyes from the gratitude she feels.
“I don’t know how you did it, Mom,” she says. “I would have said, ‘This is silly. You’re not going to become an actor. The odds of this are ridiculous, and you should move home and knock it off.’ But you’d just send me 70 bucks, 200 bucks. The fact that you didn’t give me guilt changed the course of my life. Because if I’d been guilted out, I definitely would have quit.”
HEIDI JULAVITS: It’s good to prepare. How did you support yourself in the early years of your career, like the late ’70s and early ’80s? What jobs allowed you to make art?
KIKI SMITH: I was an electrician’s assistant. I worked as a cook in a Midtown bar called Tin Pan Alley. I worked in demolition, like demolition for lofts. I asked my mother for 20 dollars every time I saw her for years. I studied to be an industrial baker.
In conversation, I was sharing the Kiki Smith excerpt with my incredibly hard-working and successful artist friend and painter, Rachel Teannalach, who had said once to her concerned mother, “Mom, If you don’t believe in me, who will?”
It’s not easy to stay constantly engaged in the practice of making art. My productivity and desire to make certainly has a cycle of highs and lows. Jerri Lisk, another amazing painter friend who has been in the business of making art for 20+ years always reminds me: “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” So, thank you to our supportive mom’s who help us stay the course on our journey of making art. And a special thank you and squeezy hug to my mom in particular.