What Is Your Artistic Legacy?

Grandmother's House 1st Bedroom


Marisa D. Aceves. Grandmother’s House: 1st Bedroom. digital photography

Years from now…legacy

article by Marisa D. Aceves

For the last three months our minds, hearts, and lives have been tied up in preparing Eloisa’s house for sale.

Although things have slowed down considerably, I have still managed to find solace in faithfully recording some small treasures and a few rooms that remind me of my grandmother’s love.

We will make the long trip to her house again this coming week, but the journey will be a bittersweet one.

Potential buyers will traipse through the long corridor with its’ gold linoleum floors, gradually making their way through the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath.

Eloisa was not her house; it was only a place she occupied for a certain period of time.

She has been gone for fourteen years, yet our memories of her remain.

It is not as though she sat up one day and announced that she was going to have a wonderful life and endear herself to many of the people that she came into contact with, but that is exactly what she did and all within the small, intimate confines of a typical Texas neighborhood.

The world may find the existence of an ordinary housewife boring even inconsequential.

“There’s not much of a story to tell”, they’d say under their breath preferring to read and write about flamboyant, drunken playwrights or headstrong, oversexed politicians.

There is a story to tell.

While the majority of the world may lack the imagination to see the overlooked beauty and profoundness of everyday occurrences, my grandmother knew that it is a series of small moments that make up our lives not just a couple of huge, game changing events.

If we can maintain a constant attitude of gratefulness for each and every second we are blessed to experience, we will never lose the child-like sense of wonder that leads to happiness.

She grew up sheltered from the persistent pessimism of her day.

Simple swatches of left-over wrapping paper were saved fastidiously, but not out of fear that she would not have enough of the everyday necessities we often take for granted.

“Someone else will need them!,” she would say as she carefully cut the small pieces of tape that sealed her latest birthday present, gently folding the paper into a neat rectangle for a neighbors future use.

Whenever someone was hungry, she always had beans, buttery tortillas and pinched star cookies ready to take home.

My grandmother lived her life for others; the majority of the things she did or said revolved around what was best for them.

She never judged you because you had problems; she would always pray for you and give you a big hug when you were ready to leave.

Eloisa’s legacy was a life of unconditional love and acceptance; it was a life steeped in spiritual simplicity.

Our legacy might be a different one than my grandmother’s, but all of us have an intense longing to be loved and remembered.

We want to know that somehow in this crazy, unpredictable world we made a difference.

What is your artistic legacy?

Is your work a way of life?

Does it illustrate your dreams, fears, and hopes?

What does it reveal about the way you view yourself and others?

Will you make a name for yourself and die lonely, or will you end this life with gratitude surrounded by friends and family?

Can you really have it all or do you believe you must sacrifice everything for your art?

These are questions only you can answer?

Perhaps your legacy will be based on a mantra you invent when you’re sixteen years old or maybe like Eloisa you will simply live an artful life that speaks for itself.

If There’s No Passion, There’s No Pulse: Why We Need To Take Risks To Create Our Best Art



Marisa D. Aceves. Corrugated Dune. digital photography


If we view our art as a body infused with life-giving ideas and experiences, we instinctively know that when there’s no passion, there’s no pulse. When art is dead, we cry and so do the artists who long to express themselves, but can’t seem to find a reason to speak. Change is threatening.  We know what we are doing; we know what we have done, but how do we make it more meaningful? How do we engage with our art in such a way that it makes others want to engage?

 Sometimes we come to a crossroads where we must make the difficult decision to allow ourselves to experience uncomfortable episodes in our lives so we can truly create great art. Not many of us want to go there. There is where all our insecurities lie. There is full of instability, uncertainty and inevitable disapproval, yet there is where genius lives. 

Inevitably, we must make that difficult choice whether to live or die. Simply breathing and existing is not enough. If we want to make art that has life then we must not be afraid to live our lives. Our lives are our stories. It is from these stories that we can draw inspiration for the artwork that we create. I once read an article by a young writer, Jeff Goins, about living your story. In it he brought up the simple fact that many people avoid living their lives because they are afraid of taking risks. The fear of failure and judgement kill many artists before they begin because they can only focus on all the problems that they will encounter on their journey to success. Instead of allowing themselves to be blindsided by their fear of future events, they need to patiently, and mindfully focus on the prize that individual freedom of expression offers them. They need to complete the journey not give up when obstacles seem insurmountable. Things will not always be the way they are now.  The people that refuse to give up are the people that are holding onto something; they have a vision that they want to see come to fruition . I urge you not to give up, but to continue to see your unique vision through till the end. Find new, exciting reasons to create.  Who knows, maybe we can both inspire and challenge each other to become the artists we were always meant to be.

I guess the question that each and every artist must eventually ask themselves is, “What am I holding onto?”












Till Death Do Us Art: How To Say Goodbye to your Old Work

Till Death Do Us Art: How To Say Goodbye to your Old Work

Yes, you gave birth to that baby gathering dust in your closet back in high school. Your dying to get rid of it, but somehow it speaks to you from beneath mounds of dust bunnies and dead crickets. Suddenly you feel both love and hate for your long lost creation, yet you just can’t bare to let it go. Why?

Perhaps this work is a link to your past, reminding you of a time when you cared less about your creative outcome and more about the process of creating. You feel that you need to keep it because someday, it may inspire you to do something different, something great, something awesome and inspirational. The roaches and the doodle bugs need culture, you muse. So you cling to the art blast from your distant past that doesn’t love you back. When you finally wake up and smell the oily, yellowed college ruled paper that you sketched it on, you begin to realize what deep inside you have known all along. It probably never will. You will fail to find it’s hidden brilliance; it simply has no brilliance. It will fail at every angle from which it is viewed because at the time you produced it, you knew nothing about composition. Failing is part of success; it is a part of growth. Letting go of old art that has nothing to do with the work that you are producing now and will offer no real source of inspiration for future work is also a part of growth.

When it’s time to make that fateful decision whether to keep a work or to lose it, consider these suggestions that have helped me to clear my studio space.

1. Confidently pitch dated class projects-
Many people in the fine arts fondly refer to class projects as “student work.” Unless the outcome of a project was unusually brilliant (ex a strong, solid work that has influenced the style or subject matter of your present work or has won you an award from it’s entry into a well know publication) it is probably safe to assume you won’t be using it as a well of perpetual inspiration. Instead let it gently sail into one of those handsome black hefty bags that you keep in the kitchen cabinet.

2. Shred artwork that is damaged beyond repair-
If the materials that you used to create your work are yellowed, musty, moth-eaten and foul smelling chances are your avid collectors won’t appreciate adding these pieces to their collections either. Do yourself a favor and save your reputation. Toss them. If you don’t respect your art, who will. If you don’t respect your collectors, that can be deadly.

3. Kill ancient abandoned experiments-
You know you’ll never get back to these pieces. You chiseled, your smeared, your dabbled. They conquered you. They beat you up in that dark alley between mediocrity and brilliance. If keeping these pieces doesn’t inspire or push you to fight to express your unique, personal vision, then why revisit them. If you must preserve some memory, snap a digital picture, it takes up less space.

4. Dump unsophisticated, problematic work that you love to hate-
Work that lacks a definite, style, composition, strong color scheme, has no redeeming qualities, and has been sitting in a dark damp closet or lonely cramped corner for years, doing it’s won thing deserves an unceremonious drop kick in to the trash compactor. If you can’t find a way out, a way in, a way through, or a clever way to recycle this particular artistic mess and you are not willing to, than you know that you have a decision to make.

While their is some secret part of us that wishes that everything that we produce or have produced is gold, the harsh reality is that we make a lot of mistakes along the way. Many of these mistakes over time, are not worth keeping, some are. As we bravely continue on our own individual artistic journeys, we slowly learn which ones to keep and which ones to discard. Still, the beauty lies in knowing that there are other artists that share our experiences and they too have to make difficult decisions such as these. We are not alone in our triumphs and our failures.
*SPECIAL NOTE: If you are a student, and you find yourself reading this article, you may want to modify these suggestions as you are probably still developing the style and subject matter that you will want to market later on in the future.

*If you have any comments or questions about this post feel free to share!
I’d love to hear from you.

Shades of Grey: The Perfect Simplicity of Black and White

Shades of Grey: The Perfect Simplicity of Black and White

Though color has captivated both photographer and viewer over the years, black and white photography still continues to fascinate us. Sometimes it sets a sombre mood, sometimes it alarms us with gritty, unflinching realism, sometimes it evokes a sense of nostalgia, but it always reaches us in a way that is mysterious, unexplainable and beautiful. In this particular series minimally titled “Composition”, I wanted to use black and white photography to emphasize both the shape and graceful form of the object. The tension that is observed between the mesh like material and the wide, black, linear straps adds to the overall visual interest of the piece.
For the love of all pictures black and white, I have attached a link to this short post for you to view and aspire to in your artistic journey, whether you are a photographer or collector http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/