#Braveryandgrace was sort of an epiphany that I had after two years of heartache and research. In 2016, my grandma became sick. From June to December of 2016, I took her to the ER almost weekly, and when her primary care physician threw his hands up, I took her to a specialist, who chalked it all up to diabetes. I desperately begged her primary care physician to take a closer look at her condition, and he tied me over with an MRI, which came back inconclusive, and again, he threw his hands up. All the meanwhile, the person I loved was suffering and pleading with me to help her. All of this pressure, uncertainty, and desperation lead me to one place… my knees! I prayed and cried on my knees.
I struggled with bitterness, and a little rebellion in the sense that there was a tug at my heart pulling away from God. But he is faithful, and kept drawing me close. After Christmas of 2016, most of her symptoms subsided, and while I’m sure there is a medical explanation, in my eager mind, it was nothing short of a miracle. I had experienced real grace. I spent the next year learning how rich a grace-filled life could be. I started practicing grace with my people and myself.
2017 was also the year that I had my first solo exhibit titled “Restructuring Vulnerability”. It was at the Melton Gallery at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I had the pleasure of working with their curator Kyle Cholmia. Kyle presented me with the title for the show, and I thought it more than fitting. This show exhibited a large scale body of work that I had completed during a journey of loss and hope, and answer seeking. The work is the definition of intimate and vulnerable. As artists, we often look back at a body of work and discover common threads throughout the work that we probably weren't aware of. When I looked back at this body of work, I realized I was pouring my soul onto each of these canvases.
So I decided to study vulnerability, and this lead me to an exciting expedition. I began to understand why I create work, and why I feel compelled to expose fractions of feelings and put that expression out into the world. What I realized was profound, as it shifted my entire perspective not only in my practice, but the way I do life! I learned that we are all designed with an inner desire for connection, and you can’t really connect with anyone without letting yourself be deeply seen- without being vulnerable. Here I was living my life scared to say out loud all of my chaotic thoughts and feelings, so I poured them onto a canvas and showed them to the world, and there, I found connection and fulfillment.
So many of us are taught that vulnerability is weakness, but I’m here to tell you friends, that it is quite the opposite! Letting yourself be seen for who you truly are is beautiful and empowering, and artistically, there is nothing more authentic! However, it is not easy, vulnerability requires bravery, it means risking the respect of someone who is judgmental, someone who might be incapable of understanding you, but that’s okay too, because those are not your people! The people who embrace you for your authentic self are the people you’ll cultivate real, meaningful, rich relationships with. Feel empowered and brave, and embrace all the grace that God gives us. Life is so much better in #braveryandgrace.
Posted on Tue, March 6, 2018
by Brandi Downham filed under