No Big Heads 2013
Every year at University of Alaska Anchorage, there is a national self-portrait exhibit/competition called No Big Heads. All entries are less than 12" x 12" in all dimensions, and done in any medium of one's choosing.
I heard of No Big Heads in the spring of 2012, and later that year I entered this ballpoint piece in that I titled Home. I worked on it for hours and hours, and when it came to framing it I realized that I should not have waited until the last minute. I ended up finding a frame that was exactly the dimension maximum, and I crammed my drawing into it, tearing some of the paper in the process. A $7 entry fee and a few days later, I found out that David Kassan (the guest juror) hadn't picked mine to be part of the exhibit. I was crushed! At the time I built up the idea in my head that my drawing would definitely get in. It was my first time entering something, and also my first time getting rejected. A few months later I sent the drawing in to the staff of Understory, who put together a collection of art and poems and stories in a small booklet once a year. They chose it to be featured in the 2013 issue, and I was pleasantly surprised. (If you want to know more about Understory, click here. If you want to see the specific issue that the drawing was in, click here! WARNING: Large PDF file.) Here is a picture of the drawing.
The reason why I bring this up is because the 2013 No Big Heads just happened this year. The guest juror is artist Candy Chang, whom I got to meet at a luncheon that my drawing teacher invited me and another student to. We ate a great meal at the restaurant on campus, and we got to ask her questions and also share some of our own thoughts and feelings about art and community and what inspires us.
Since I am not really comfortable having a one on one conversation with someone at a table of twenty-two people, I waited until it was mostly empty so that I could tell her what inspired me (earlier in the lunch she asked us all if there were any books, art, music, journeys that affected us). I told her that Carl Sagan's book Cosmos is a big reason why I don't feel like just a measly speck in the universe. Rather, I feel happy that I am able to experience this gift of human life. Candy told me, "I fucking love Carl Sagan!" and said that she likes to watch Cosmos all the time and even falls asleep to it. She told me to keep pursuing my art, too. Candy was a very kind and approachable person, and it was so nice to be able to meet her.
I did enter something into the show this year. but unfortunately it did not get chosen. I wasn't crushed like I was last year, considering I experienced more forms of rejection since last year's show. Instead, I am looking forward to the challenge of being able to make a new self-portrait for next year. The most fun part about art in general is the initial feeling that you get when you come up with an idea. There is a rush that comes over you, and you feel excited to try and bring the vision to life. I can't wait to see where my mind will be a year from now and what I will choose to do with a self-portrait then. Here is a picture of what I did this year.
Our whole life is the building of something extraordinary, and capturing the essence of our emotions and feelings in a specific time and place is challenging and rewarding.
On a final note, if you want to know some more about Candy Chang and what she does, here is a Ted Talks video in which she is the speaks about her most popular piece, "Before I die, I want to __________"