After I submit my final painting, I leave for the rest of the summer and that is that. I don't talk about the project much. I don't check in to see if the curatorial committee has accepted my final work. I just put it out of my mind. It's like when you don't talk about your pregnancy until 12 weeks. You just tell your mom. That's the model I went with and I think it's because I didn't want to jinx it and I didn't want to get my hopes up too high. So I just lived with my anxiety.
As the opening gets closer and I receive emails from the organizers asking for photos of my work in process, a short video, to sign up to speak during the opening week, it starts to become real. And I do as I am told. But still, even up to the week before the event, when I see pictures on Facebook of the art being hung and my piece not among them, a part of me worries that the committee has decided not to include it at the last moment. My fears are completely baseless and yet they worm their way into my thoughts like a little biblical plague. It is the same old imposter syndrome rearing its ugly face. By now the website is revamped and all of the works are available to preview. They are all stunning. Mine still is not on the website.
A few days before the opening, my mom flies in. She wasn't planning to come but decided to use up her airline miles at the last minute. She comes to the opening event along with my family, in-laws and closest friends. I show up early and a wave of relief washes over me as I see my girlie donkey hanging between Chukat and Pinchas. Before the actual opening I speak to a group of 20-30 people about my interpretation of Balak. A few minutes into it I finally relax. We go out for dinner nearby and return an hour later for the actual opening. By then the gallery is packed. The Director of the Israel Museum spoke about the project along with the Founder of the Jerusalem Biennale and of course, Shoshana, who started Women of the Book so many years ago. I feel incredibly relieved and proud. I can only imagine how Shoshana is feeling. She is beaming.
In the next few days my mom and I return to the gallery and I give my talk twice more. At one of the talks an older British man comes up to me with a younger woman, his daughter, and asks if my painting is for sale. I explain that only the entire collection, as a whole, is for sale, but not the individual paintings. But that he was welcome to buy a limited edition print. He wants original work and asks if I had other paintings for sale. I give him my card. It seems that they have just bought a house in a beautiful old neighborhood of Jerusalem, just outside of the Old City, and need to decorate the great white bare walls! I tell him I am happy to bring over a selection of paintings for him to choose. A few days later he sends an email with a list of the ones he wants to see and we set a date.
I spend the whole morning at their house moving paintings around, drinking coffee, chatting about this and that. They are so lovely. The daughter, who is about my age, is enamored by one of my goats. And her parents purchase two other original paintings. And they want to see more when they return from London in December.
I literally haven't stopped painting since that day. I feel inspired and supported. Validated enough to feel confident but still vulnerable enough to create work that is accessible and authentic. My older styles, which I'd all but abandoned, have found their way into my new pieces, like old friends. Reminders that nothing is wasted. No experience nor experiment. No phase nor fear. It's all coming out in the work as a true reflection of who I am today.
For you art collectors: limited edition prints of Balak are available now on my ETSY site. I'm offering them at about 30% less than what the Jerusalem Publishing Atelier is charging. That's because I love you.