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Monday, October 20, 2014


International Artist, Jolyn Gardner Campbell Smiles While Sitting in front of a Hand Painted Ghana Flag on a Concrete Wall.year ago today, I landed in Ghana, West Africa for the very first time.  

But perhaps, what's even more significant, a year ago today, I became an international artist.  

Exploring the correlation between identifying as an artist and how it ties with visiting a new place has officially consumed me this afternoon.  

I began examining the parallels of this dynamic while reflecting on The Art of Voyage: 1 Year Ghana Anniversary As An International Artist and here's what I came up with thus far...

Declaration and Absence of Hesitation 

Declaring the thing without hesitation is a powerful way to use our very handy function of speech.  With confidence gathering on the tip of the tongue, there's simply no room for doubt.  Despite the lack of a plane ticket, the mandatory yellow fever shot, malaria medication, hotel reservations, or solidified travel itinerary several weeks before departure--my conversations with those in my presence had a theme:  "I am an international artist and I am travelling to Ghana, West Africa for my very first International Participatory Public Art Project."      

BOOM!  I even changed my email signature to "Jolyn Going to Ghana Gardner."  I wanted the Universe to be sure that I was completely clear on who I was (international artist), where I was going (Ghana, West Africa) and what I would be doing once I arrived (art, duh!).

A New Identity Requires Visualization

If talk is cheap, then visualization is even cheaper.  It doesn't take much to sit down, close your eyes and conjure up images of what we say we would like to experience.  Every day I would envision how people would receive me once stepping off the plane, the art presentations I would give in an international setting, and even how I would introduce myself to others.  (If I had thought of it back then, I would have made an international artist identification card just to add a layer of extra corny which the Universe absolutely just loves, FYI.) 

Manifestation is in the details and visualizing the series of steps it would take to land in Ghana was also an every day exercise.  Accordingly, I visualized how the sun would greet me with that equatorial heat and even how excited I would be once the plane ticket was purchased.  Once I did finally purchase the ticket, I printed it off and framed it so that I could look at it every day.  It reminded me that a major step had been accomplished and that there were other steps to take.  Defining what it meant to be an international artist through visualization helped to make my new identity real.  

Division Has No Destination

The biggest confirmation of my new identity was a conversation I had with world renowned artist, Ablade Glover a few days after arriving in Ghana.  (Yes, I actually got to meet Ablade Glover and yes he is super amazing in person!)  He told me that over here (meaning the non-western part of the world) artists are not divided up into stages like emerging, mid-year and established.  He said, once you identify as an artist, your work speaks for itself.  If I only went to Ghana to hear this one truth, it would be more than enough.  What Ablade said, (yes, he said I can call him by his first name) opened up a new window of my identity that felt like the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


  Shout out to 3 Artists who have helped shaped my international mindset as an artist! +Shurvon Haynes +Charles Bibbs +Larry Poncho Brown 



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