The sky was blue and the sun was shinning but the wind cut my face something fierce. I was bundled up pretty good but winter was winning and getting to my destination seemed to take forever. The nearest bus stop was still a half a mile away from the house where I was heading.
I finally arrived and was greeted by a house full of older Black women, most in their 40s 50s, some breast cancer survivors, some friends of survivors, and lots of food. This gathering was part potluck and part breast cancer awareness meet-up. I was 23 years old and preparing myself to tell these women that their participation in breast cancer prevention clinical trials was important.
I was nervous. I felt like a complete outsider. I was young, relatively healthy, had no known close relatives battling breast cancer and poor. I mean I had a job and everything but I was part of the working poor and had very little interaction with Black folks who owned things like homes in the middle of Queens. I was struggling with my own impoverished thoughts and the tough message I had to deliver - we need more Black women in clinical trials.
Basically, I was asking these mostly healthy women to sign up to participate in a national breast cancer prevention trial that would require them to take drugs for five years while we (by we I mean the research institution for which I worked) watched. Black women were historically unrepresented in these types of trials and part of my job was to change this.
Art was not on my mind.
In the midst of all of my mind chatter and the chatter in the room, the hostess told me that at some point during the afternoon, there would be an art auction. All proceeds would support the work of the breast cancer awareness group. The art was pretty good from what I could remember.
But I hadn't come there to look at or buy art.
I got through my cancer trial pitch just fine. I answered all the questions as truthfully and best as I could and was able to talk to a number of women one-on-one about their individual risk for developing breast cancer and their eligibility for the clinical trial.
At some point during the afternoon, the auction happened. I honestly can't remember how it happened, I just know it happened and that I walked a half a mile in the blustery cold back to the bus with a small package of art bundled under my arm.
Before I left the house, I made the check out to the hostess and prayed to God that she wouldn't cash it until after pay day. The piece cost me $75 and it was way more than I could afford at the time. A mother with a baby on her back is powerful imagery in an of itself, but it struck a particular chord in me. At the time when I bought the piece, my daughter was 8 years old and memories of me carrying her as an infant were still quite fresh. Becoming a mother at 14 left me soft and bruised in lots of places. It didn't take much to make me cry. It still doesn't.
All of that was 13 years ago, I've since donated the gold frame my first piece of original art came in to the Goodwill. The actual piece, though, sits in my living room gathered next to two other original paintings in my growing art collection.
At 23, I wasn't fully prepared to buy my first piece of original art that day, but I'm glad I did. I own a piece of artwork that instantaneously transports me back in time and speaks to my own experience as a teenager mother. It's a piece that causes me to reflect and express gratitude.
At 37, my art tastes have matured a bit and my desire to fill my home with art that I love has grown. I don't complain about the coins too much, I just find ways to get the art I want at the price I can afford.
I'm committed to helping you do the same. I made this easy to use and read FREE mini guide that helps you map out a plan to start and grow your own art collection.
It's filled with tips on starting your art collecting journey including, best places to see art up close, my favorite places to buy art online and a handy worksheet that will help you map out your art collecting plans. <<CLICK HERE TO GET THE GUIDE>>
Buying for yourself and your space doesn't have to be scary. Get the guide - A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Art - and get started today. Oh, I made a printable watercolor print for you too. Consider it a place holder for you until your original art arrives.
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in love and art,