A few weeks ago I was sitting alone in my room editing photos from a recent session of mine. It was probably about the fourth hour into editing and I’d hit the “Dear-God-when-will-this-end!?” mark. The hardest part about editing photos for hours, for me at least, is doing it alone. I have no one to laugh with when I do a weird edit, no one to cheer me on because they understand how tedious the process can be, no one to cry with me when I accidentally delete a photo I’d spent thirty minutes on trying to make just right…you get the idea. There’s an isolation there that clutters the “art” part, and while being an artist is often a solo gig, with your own feelings and thoughts put into your work, there is also a great need for community and comradeship.

Over the summer I became friends with one of the baristas at a local coffee shop. Over time we learned that both of us are writing novels, and are both currently in the rewriting aspect of it. Which is terrible. For those of you who don’t know—your first draft is never, ever good. And it is never, ever fun to rewrite what you spent months on. In him I found the companionship (and grammatical guidance) I’ve needed to make my novel far better than it was and to pull me out of my writer’s block that’s been going on almost two months.

During the summer I also connected with a group of photographers near my age who helped me learn a little more about the business and social media side of the job, and who continue to help me with the technical side as well.

This brings us back to me editing alone, because I was thinking on those encounters when I realized that I need more moments like that, more people to be in the artist part of my life; I figured others needed that as well. So I made a little Facebook group; that grew; and grew a bit more. We’re at almost sixty members last I looked, which is far more than the ten I added to the group in the beginning.

Forms of artistry in the group range from music and composition to acting and performing to photography and painting to jewelry-making and baking to writing—from novelists to journalists; we’ve got a little bit of everything it seems.

The freakishly talented jewelry-maker, Tabitha, says, “It’s helped me realize that there are so many creative people around me! It’s a safe and fun place to share and connect with other artists.” Tabitha is currently preparing to enter an art show in the coming weeks, and will hopefully have a website soon to display her gorgeous and intricate designs. She’s definitely an up-and-coming member of the arts community and I’m glad she’s giving us the honor of watching her grow.

“I think that group has great potential…I think that coming together and sharing opinions can help the individuals of the group develop their dreams into realities.” says Marquese Liddle, one of the group’s authors and the previously mentioned barista. When asked what he’d like to get out of being a part of Young Artists of Wheeling he said, “I would like to get the necessary feedback the group could provide so as to better perfect my novel.” That is what this group is about. Feedback, encouragement, constructive criticism. Those things are needed for growth.

This little group I made is just a tiny piece of what seems to be a reboot, so to speak, of the arts in today’s society. There is definitely a movement for art happening. Caleb Hedrick, electronic music crackerjack, helps me in running the group by oftentimes being the diplomat and making sure everyone stays happy and heard. I started this group as a place of inspiration and comradeship, to make connections and branch out, to grow and to never stop striving to better yourself in your art as well as in life as a whole. My hope is that this group is a small step that’s needed to continue on the long road of artistry.

 

Read more about the Young Artists of Wheeling group in the WLU Trumpet.



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