Artist Resources

Daily Inspiration: Agnes Martin Knows About Artists, Fear, and Pride

"You think it would be easy to discover what is blinding you, but it isn’t so easy. It’s pride and fear that covers the mind. Pride blinds you. It destroys everything on the way in. Pride is completely destructive. It never leaves anything untouched. First it takes one way … telling you that you’re all right … boosting up your ego, making all kinds of excuses for you… It takes a long time for us to turn against pride and get rid of it entirely. And, of course, with every little downfall of pride, we feel a tremendous step up in freedom and in joy. Of course, most people don’t really have to come to grips with pride and fear. But artists do, because as soon as they’re alone and solitary, they feel fear. Most people don’t believe they have pride and fear, because they’ve been conditioned on pride and fear. But all of us have it. If we don’t think we have it, then that’s a deceit of pride. Pride practices all kinds of deceits. It’s very, very tricky. To recognize and overcome fear and pride, in order to have freedom of mind, is a long process."

In the book “The Artist Observed: 28 Interviews With Contemporary Artists,” a book which looks like an archaic relic but is actually filled to the brim with awesome nuggets of advice, the author John Gruen interviews painter Agnes Martin. Agnes Martin was a highly influential Canadian-American minimalist abstract painter. She makes an interesting connection between pride and fear inhibiting us. I like her use of the word deceit to describe pride, as if it’s tripping us up without even really knowing it.

Joelle by Kanchan Mahon