Last week was the opening for my Sonhos Melancholia photography exhibition at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art in Great Falls, Montana. I was so excited to have an opening back in my home state of Montana, that my parents and friends would be able to attend. This is the first opening where I had been asked to give an artist talk. At my other openings, I was only expected to say a few words about the works in the exhibition, myself, and express my appreciation. Despite my work in high school theatre, four years in Speech and Debate, and being a generally loud and slightly obnoxious child, I have grown very nervous of public speaking in adulthood.
Once my husband and I had decided to extend our orders in the Azores, I knew I would have to get back to the US for a visit. I hadn’t been back in the United States for over two and half years and I didn’t want to wait another year for our next station. My art exhibition provided the ideal time frame for returning home.
It was a gorgeous summer day, and I was as ready as I could be for my artist talk. Light hors d’oeuvres and wine were served for the first half hour, before we headed up to an air-conditioned classroom on the second floor for my presentation.
In my nearly thirty years of existence, I had never created a PowerPoint presentation. However, I figured it was an ideal option. It would provide speaking prompts and help me to feel less self-conscious, with the audience attention focused on my slide visuals.
My mother-in-law had recorded my speech, to share the link with my husband (who was still back in the land of the Azores with our furry children). Luckily, I had no idea at the time, or I would have been even more nervous. It took me a couple of days before I could bring myself to watch the link. However, I was surprisingly un-mortified. I hate the sound of my voice (as many people do) and I dreaded watching myself speak. However, I have to admit, I was pleased with what I saw–not in an arrogant way–but more of an okay-that-went-well-I-am-not-horribly-embarrassed -and-I-seemed-likeable-way. I used the verbal fillers “but” and “um” too much, but other than that–I was fairly well spoken, confident, and my inevitable hand gestures were fluid. So–yay me! For not being a failure and embarrassment to my friends and family!
From that point on, I felt a huge sense on relief. My nervousness had subsided, the audience had listened intently and asked interesting questions. I was happy to be finished with that portion of the evening. The opening continued for another hour and I answered individual questions while socializing with friends, family, and other kind humans who had come out the to reception. During the evening I sold six works–which was better than I could have hoped.
After the opening, I went out to a fantastic dinner with my parents, the museum director and the art gallery curator. They were lovely women, and I was delighted to meet them. I think the director told me the best compliment of the evening. She explained, people often share their criticisms and complaints due to her role in the museum. She said the biggest complaints she had heard that night were that the works should have been placed in a larger gallery space, and they wanted more pieces.
If those were the biggest complaints people had at my opening, I couldn’t be happier.
I couldn’t believe how many wonderful friends, family, family-friends, acquaintances and complete strangers were willing to come out and spend their evening with me and my artwork. Thank you.
For any readers in Montana, or in or near Great Falls, my exhibition will be on display until December 14, 2013. The Paris Gibson Square Museum of art is an amazing art space with seven galleries in a converted schoolhouse. Entry is free! Check it out. Hearts.