Year of Growing Pains.

It’s cliché but I feel like I need to share my thoughts on 2014. Just like the rest of you, I have a long list of things I want to tackle next year. They’re not resolutions, they’re just things that I ran out of time to complete this year.

My brain is a series of contradictions- I can’t believe it’s New Years Eve already while simultaneously feeling like this year was by far the longest year of my life.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled more that you would ever believe in 2014. I’m also not ashamed to tell you that I reached a variety of rock bottoms and harsh realities. I experienced many moments of doubt, self-loathing, frustration, and extreme financial hardship.

2014 was the longest, toughest, and tumultuous year of my life- I have never been happier to see December 31st than I am today.

If given the chance I would NEVER opt to relive this year, yet I would not change one single moment of the year… well, maybe just one…

Although I sum up 2014 as the year of Growing Pains, I finally understand the true meaning of the phrase “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining” – and I feel lucky that I was able to gain such perspective in such a tough and defeating time of my life. I owe a big thank you to 2014 for teaching me how to survive.

I hope everyone can look back today and feel the gratitude that I feel for my own life. Grip those thoughts tightly and don’t loosen your hold on them in the next year. That gratitude is the purpose of life. It’s what makes the world go round.

I’m grateful for the many failures and frustrations that made me realize what true success is. I find happiness in the smallest of small successes. Success comes in so many forms.

I’m grateful for being reminded of the fragility of life. I’m grateful for the impacts we leave on others. Some of us can cause entire communities to come together. This is for you Jes Metzger.

I’m not grateful for watching my most inspiring and generous mentor fight for her life this year. I’ll never get why or how it happened to the best person in this world- but I am grateful that she’s still here, still fighting, and for reminding me what life is truly about. Love, give, and smile in the moment as much as you can. I’m grateful for knowing that miracles do happen. I’m grateful to remember that this life is not about the materialistic bullshit, it’s about being good to one another and creating positive change that gets passed on. One person can truly save thousands of lives with just a smile. Don’t forget it.

I’m grateful for being a starving artist because I know that hunger fuels the fire.

I’m grateful for staying up for four nights in a row, making art, being tortured by my thoughts late at night, zoning out and realizing I wrote all over my wall in permanent marker. I realized the sacrifice, purpose, and dedication behind my art. I realized that I really am an artist and that it is not going to be easy, but it will be totally worth it. The truth is that you can be rich even when you are poor. I am richer than most people will be in their entire life.

I’m grateful for moments of self-loathing and isolation. Because it has made me realize that I have the best goddamn friends anyone could ever ask for. I know that at the loneliest moments, we are never truly alone. Even if you think you are, I promise that your life matters to someone… and it’s not always the obvious person.

I’ve realized the impact others have made on me and the impact I want to make in return.

I’m grateful for experiencing doubt, questioning myself, and my value. I’m grateful to know that it will all be okay if you just keep moving forward. It will always pass.

Lastly, I am grateful for the people that have stuck around to read this. The ones that always have my back, and the ones that believe in my dreams. I couldn’t keep going without you.

Tonight I’m toasting to my growing pains. I’m gripping tightly to the lessons I’ve learned and the gratitude I feel, and I’m letting the rest stay in 2014 and I hope you all will take a minute to join me in that.

I will never forget this year of life, I’ll never take it for granted.

Happy New Year, be safe, be happy, and take this moment in. No matter how good or bad, I promise you there is a silver lining somewhere.

I won’t be writing again till next year. Take care of yourselves till then. See you never again 2014- Bring on 2015- I hope it’s better for all of us ❤

With much love and gratitude,

-Devon

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To Do Lists and Making Room For Art

I’ve rewritten “Start A Blog” on my daily To-Do list for nearly 5 months. Finally, yes, finally I am going to cross it out. RIGHT THIS SECOND.

 

Disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about blogging.

 

So if you keep reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The other day my boss asked me, “What do you think about when you are not doing work?” and after thinking about it for ten minutes the best answer I could come up with was, “I actually have no idea”.

I whipped out my To-Do list and added, “Figure out what I think about?”

Not having the answer to that simple question startled me. I typically overanalyze everything… even a crumb on a table, so when I realized I had no answer for such a simple question, I started to question what I’ve been doing for the last 3 months? I really don’t know. It was like an out of body experience, like I was on autopilot. I felt like a shell filled with nothing. Nothing but work ethic filled with hollow thoughts.

So when I got back to that To- Do list, I told myself I would start making time to sort out the scrambled egg tornado in my head. This tornado has been a creative block that’s been evolving over the course of 8 months, continuously sucking up and mashing all once coherent thoughts into the jumbled mess it is right now. That stops today.

As an artist, I need to think clearly so I can focus on the goal of living a life that forgets about the word “starving”. Something I didn’t know until recently is that writing about your art is almost, if not just as important as making the work. Besides my rusty grant proposal that I submitted last month, I haven’t done much clear, cohesive writing. Because of my scattered tendencies, I’ve had trouble keeping in contact with many and have slacked on updates. I see this blog as a multitude of solutions- getting back in the habit of writing, finding clarity, rediscovering my fiery passion for my work, and allowing anyone that’s interested to get to know a more personal side of my creative process. It already feels good.

For those that don’t know me or know much about the last year and why this blog is just now happening- here is a quick recap. Last August I began my final year in graduate school, in March I quit my job for the sake of risking everything for my art, I then graduated in May and after my 5 seconds of feeling accomplished, I landed in a pure state of panic when I received my first student loan statement 4 days later. I had nothing but a $75,000 piece of paper that said I was a “Master of Fine Art”… I got a nice pat on the back while being asked “ So how exactly do you make money with that degree?” …that night my bank account statements and I held each other as I cried.

I truly am grateful for each and every thing that I learned during my MFA program… however nothing could have prepared me for the things they forgot to mention- you know, things like the deep depression you sink into when you realize you just signed your soul to the devil for an education that offers few clear, stable income jobs or how truly tough the competition is in the artworld or just how harsh rejections can be. It ain’t easy.

To future graduates- especially those in art school… I recommend you start planning now.. and also start playing the lottery.

So if you are still with me, I want to thank you in advance for actually being interested in my thoughts. If there is one thing that I hope to come out of this.. it’s that you enjoy it. Thanks for reading the first blog ever created by yours truly and being a part of organizing my unorganized brain.

To properly introduce myself, I’m Devon Reiffer, an artist who makes art for social change. I make art not just because I love being covered in charcoal from head to toe, but also because I enjoy the many meaningful conversations that stem from the content of my work and the process behind the development of each piece. I strive to provoke thought from a variety of perspectives. There is no wrong or right… there just “is”. Plus, I care about people. I feel strongly about being true to yourself and being proud to be in your own skin. We all have something to bring to the table.

In a society that has such advancements in technology and communication, I feel that we have somehow forgotten how to truly connect with each other. My goal is to break down those communication barriers, exchange stories from our individual paths, and bridge the gaps between us by offering different perspectives. Somewhere in the middle, we might realize we have a lot in common. We are all people and far too often we act like we aren’t aware of it.

 

Until next time….Take care of yourselves. My next blog will give you some insight as to how I fell into art…