“Self Portrait as an Avatar”

Gracie self portrait_004

So it’s 1245am…and I couldn’t sleep. I had been laying in bed for almost an hour, listening to my clock radio playing Abba “Dancing Queen” (couldn’t keep my feet from tapping with the time) and just couldn’t fall asleep. I have been so overwelmed this last 2-3 weeks with so much on my mind, that I decided I had to just spill. I have been trying to work on my artist statement, or at least some type of statement as to what I want to do for my thesis project. After many pages of notes and rough drafts, I realized that this is mostly for my blog, so why not wing it and see what I write through stream of consciousness. It’s not official, its just a blog about my life.

I have wanted to sort out what I am doing as an artist especially as it pertains to Second Life and Gracie. I think I realized that artists never really get anything sorted out, as a good friend would say “You can’t be an artist, you’re too organized!”

So the last 3ish weeks, I have been thinking about the idea of my avatar, Gracie Kendal, as my self portrait, as my work of art. I created her in the ‘image’ of me almost 3 years ago. Yes, she is an ideal image, at least visually, but what does that matter? I am the artist, expressing myself. Creating a self portrait is normally a self exploration, a cathartic experience in which the artist really analyzes themselves. Sometimes they depict their history, their life, sometimes they create self portraits that are strictly fantasy in which they stage a scene with characters. Artists create self portraits to help portray their hopes and dreams. They create psychological representations of themselves, as is the case of Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh. They are autobiographical, telling a story of their life. They are a way of searching into their inner souls. In the 3 years I have lived with Gracie Kendal, I have learned so much about myself. I had told a friend, that Gracie probably saved my life, more than I know.

I am 36 years old, and have grown up in a continously changing, renewing, progressing, evolving world. Technology advances at an ever faster rate, every second. Our society has become more and more immersed in social media, and it is changing our lives. My generation seems to be trying to find its way in this new era. I am one of these people, kinda lost and overwelmed in teh jumble of networks. Second life, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Plurk?? Why, why why???

Virtual studio_001

I have been an abstract painter for over 10 years. I love to paint, getting my fingers wet with color, the feel of the blow dryer in my hands manipulating the paint on the canvas, controlling chaos, pushing the boundaries of modernism’s abstract expressionism into the postmodern climate. So having immersed myself in these social media networks, I have engaged with new technology more than I ever thought I would as an artist. I have embraced the idea of merging my art with this new technology and am going to focus on the idea of avatar and identity. Not necessarily in a broad general sense, but on a much more personal level, as my self portrait.

Gracie Kendal allows me to play and work as an artist and a woman, she lets me explore and experience those roles that society has formerly devalued. She allows me to work through my own personal issues with self-esteem, shyness, relationships. I can search for what I truelly want. Through Gracie I am able to find out what I want in life, in love, in art, in work, in success… I have become more aware of myself through Gracie. (My counselor will love that I said that..LOL)

Yes, I know the question you are all burning to ask… I have dated in Second Life. I have fallen in love through Second Life. I am a young, beautiful, single woman, so why not? It is sad to say, that my relationships have not worked out. I believe mainly because I was looking for love for all the wrong reasons. I learned this through Gracie. It is so easy to meet people in Second Life. I have some of the best friends in the world, who are genuine, generous, loyal, respectful, sweet, amazing people. But, I know, I KNOW, I can’t be with someone because they make me feel special. I have to feel special for myself. Gracie has helped me realize this…

to be continued… (considering its 142am and I’m still awake…ugh!!!)

Chad and Kris dancing_001

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7 thoughts on ““Self Portrait as an Avatar”

  1. Wonderful! You are off to a great start with this, Gracie. 🙂

    I am 43, and wresting with the same issues about all of these new social media tools. How do they fit into my life? How do they change me, and how I communicate and interact with others? And how is my avatar an extension of myself, where I can work through social issues, and play out what I want out of life and relationships? Where does one draw the line between my virtual self and my actual world self? Can a line be drawn at all? I believe not, if one is fully immersed, as I am.

    I look forward to reading more of this, and would LOVE to talk to you about it if you’d like a dialogue, either here, in email, in SL, whatever medium you prefer. So much of what you say resonates deeply within me as I pursue my own personal journey.

    Keep up the good work!
    Princess Ivory

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Gracie. My stream of consciousness is often like a raging river—I can’t wrap my hands around it before it’s escaped downstream. Your thoughts about the plethora of social media resonate. It’s been a challenge figuring out how social media, virtual worlds, avatars, etc. integrate with our lives and personalities; at times it’s been very confusing and overwhelming. There’s a bit of comfort in knowing that others wrestle with the same and that I, or you, or they are not the only ones stumbling along the path…

  3. Thank you so much Princess and Sunn… I know there are so many people who are going through the same thing. There are a lot of people who see Second Life as only a game. But for those that don’t, for those of us who immerse ourselves in this amazing culture making friends, forging relationships, creating art and just adding to their first life, I say carry on. Gracie is definitely a part of me, just as I am a part of her. I may not completely look like her (although I had thought that would make an interesting art project, to actually become her in RL) but she has my values, morals, personality, character.. sense of humor, fun loving, carefree view of things. I struggle with dating and life in both worlds.
    The relationships I have had, have been amazing. I will never forget them. You always learn more about yourself based on each new experience. Sometimes I think, yes I do want to be single. There would be much less pain than in a long distance, online relationship. Other times, I think, yea but its always so nice to have someone, just that ONE to share your life with. Both real and virtual. That is my goal. That is what I want. I have questioned who I am lately, because of a recent break-up. He made me feel bad about myself. I have vowed I will never let anyone make me feel that way again. Another thing I have learned from Gracie 🙂
    See there I go again rambling…LOL Probably a bit too much info. But then I figure this is my self portrait, so I have to be open and honest. I want to portray me. And this is who I am 🙂
    Thanks again for your comments, I so appreciate all the feedback!!! See ya on the flip side!!!

  4. Unfortunately, I do not have the source, but here is part of a quote that fits well with what you have said about not letting someone make you feel bad about yourself:
    “…No one will hurt me again, for I absolutely refuse to hurt myself with my own thoughts ever again…”

  5. Needing some a little more real that SL can give is one of the reasons that I’m semi-retired now.

    And I don’t mean to imply ANYTHING about your previous relationship but the “made me fell bad about myself” comment struck a chord. In RL I have lived for a long time now with a survivor of both physical and emotional abuse. I support the local charity, with time, money and art, that aids women and men in need. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_abuse for a start on reading. This isn’t to say that you were in this situation, but it is always a good idea to have some sobering reading to do.

    • Wake!!! Thank you so much for commenting :))
      Yes, I definitely understand where you are coming from. It definitely wasn’t anything like that, just a very deep intense relationship That ended up making me doubt who I even was. That hurt more than anything I think. Like I said above, I know I need to find out who I am, before I can be happy and content in a relationship. Thats what I love about being an artist, I can explore and experience through my art. Whether its painting or living through Gracie.
      Thank you for the info on abuse. It is so rampant in our society. I see it all the time at work. Thank you :))

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