Rejection is inevitable. All humans have to endure some form of rejection, at some point. In college, I studied Fine Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design. While studying this field, I recalled a few of my professors discussing the topic of rejection. They did so in a way to prepare their students for the competitive world of art. After exploring this topic numerous times, I thought I had mentally prepared myself to face rejection head-on, with an approach that would get me past it both effortlessly and effectively. That was not exactly the case. I spent over a year, since I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, applying for multiple jobs, entering in several art shows, and numerous other artist opportunities. A few prospects worked in my favor, but the majority resulted in an ever-so-dreadful rejection letter. Though I thought I had equipped myself for such rejection, I found out quickly (especially after my first few letters) that this was not so.
The attitude I had towards the rejection I faced was no-doubt less than desirable. I spent half of my time and energy self-loathing, and the other half throwing the pity party of the year. As I mentioned before, ALL humans will face rejection; but how each person reacts to it speaks volumes. Experiencing rejection is not the finest of feelings, but we all respond to it in different means. I have noticed that there are those that use rejection to motivate them to reach their goals, while others become bitter. I watched myself slowly fall into the “bitter” category. After pondering this for weeks, I decided that the path of bitterness was not the path I wanted to travel. As my attitude started to change, my drive to succeed did as well. This piece reflects on my transition as a whole.
In this piece, I collaged a few of the rejection letters I have received this year (the ones I could find at least). The layers of paint on top of the letters symbolize the method of moving forward amidst denial, yet the letters can still be seen underneath the paint. My objective was to communicate to my viewers that though my updated approach sheds more of a positive light, the letters are still there to remind me of what I have learned. The giant lungs I drew on top of the letters are symbolic in various ways. I researched a lot of symbolism in anatomy, and I noticed that among many cultures and groups, parts of the body symbolize feelings and emotions. I read that the lungs can symbolize a negative sense of loss, disappointment, or feelings regarding ones place in the world. This aspect could very well tie into the negative feelings I once had. I also read that the lungs can symbolize cleansing, such as inhaling positive feelings, and exhaling the negative (quite similar to meditation). This perfectly represents my new perspective on rejection. It also inspired the title of this piece.
This project not only acts as a way to heal myself, but to heal others as well. I want to not only appeal to artists who are having a tough time facing rejection, but I want this piece to be relatable to all people. I want my viewers to feel as if they are not alone. Acceptance and motivation can be a bit of a process. Many people, such as myself, take longer to realize the positivity in being denied. I find it very liberating to get to a place where the heaviness of rejection is replaced by the drive and motivation to succeed.