On Rejecting and Being Rejected / by marisa vitiello

I have been putting myself out there a lot lately. I've been applying to shows and writing proposals with Beate (my collaborator) and on my own. And I/we have been getting a lot of rejections. 

At the same time, I have had the opportunity to be on the other side: the one who is looking for a certain something and having to say "no, this is not right." I just sent out a group of rejection letters to young poets, possibly their first opportunity to receive such a thing, and my stomach hurts from doing it. However, being on the side that has to make a choice has reiterated what I know but sometimes don't have the self confidence to remember:

  • Rejection does not mean that the work is not good.
  • Rejection does not mean that I/you are not an artist, writer, etc.
  • Rejection does not mean that I/you are not a good artist, writer, etc.

Rejection means that it isn't right for the circumstances: it doesn't meet the needs of the person doing the choosing, it doesn't go with the other art that will be on the wall, it isn't in season, whatever.

And yes, rejection means you have to try again and hope you/I hit the right note at the right time. 

Greg Lundgren in his Vital 5 Productions book has this great assignment to create an exhibit of rejection letters. Because, of course, getting rejected means you tried. and tried and tried and tried. And I want to be someone who tries.

So, perhaps this pep talk is for me, perhaps it is for you. Perhaps it is an apology for those poets I had to write my note to telling them that indeed their work was not right for the circumstances. I hope they continue to write. And since making art is in and of itself what I want to do, I will continue to make and I will do what I can to share. 

And now, I leave you with a recent image.

Black and Gold Sumi Ink with Tempera, 2014

Black and Gold Sumi Ink with Tempera, 2014