Manette Fairmont (Part 1)
National Award Winning Artist
Categories: Arts, Paul, Proverbs
Manette Fairmont is a national award-winning artist whose main medium is watercolor, though she also uses other medium. In the interview, Manette shares insights into how she overcame limitations to become an artist, her concept of true and inclusive art, her understanding of the complete and individual nature of artists (not needing to be artificially or sensually stimulated), and the role that inspiration from the Bible played in her success.
You have your own art gallery, and you are an accomplished and nationally recognized artist. What has brought you to where you are today?
The main idea, which I learned in my college education, was the sense that I am unlimited. Whatever we need to do we can do because God directs us. I began college as a business major. With the help of my professors, I realized there was nothing wrong with incorporating creativity into my life as well as principled business practices.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Yes, but I was told early in my life by a woman crafts artist that I had no artistic ability. As a child, I didn't realize the context of her comment.
In the end you weren't dissuaded by her comment, but how did you deal with her negativity when you were young?
I pulled away from the arts and did nothing with them in high school, even though early on I had teachers who commented on my creativity. I decided I'd be a communication major, a news reporter. I got accepted into several universities (all of which had good art schools). But the one I attended (Principia College) didn't have a communications department, so I decided to major in business. But my love of art was still there, so I took Art 101. It was one of my toughest classes. I struggled the first half of the semester, but wonderful things started happening the second half. My professors told me I could be a combination of things. It was all right to be well-rounded. So I minored in business and majored in art.
Your business background has helped you, hasn't it?
Definitely! I do my own bookkeeping and marketing and save a lot of overhead costs. My business background helped me develop myself personally to do sales. One of the most difficult things for artists is to promote themselves.
When did you learn to promote yourself?
After college when I took a job at a fine art gallery where I was selling art. Interestingly, I had applied to a really well-known art gallery but was not hired there and never knew why. Two years ago, the man who owned that fine art gallery wanted to buy my current gallery. He told me he hadn't hired me because I was an artist, and artists can't sell art very well. I was challenged with a lot of stereotypes. He had so much respect for my ability to do both. Learning to be a multi-tasker was a big thing for me and allowed me to go into business for myself.
What challenges have you faced along the way, and how have you used the Bible to help you?
The issues of talent and competition are enormous in the arts. People attach limits to artists. Art might be fulfilling in terms of being creative, but it may not meet the mortgage payments. My study of the Bible encouraged me. Proverbs talks about womanhood: "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Prov. 31:10). The passages that follow enabled me to see my own value as an individual. I realized that the art I wanted to express didn't compete with anyone. When I went forward with that thought, I was able to follow what I wanted to do.
Jesus' story about the talents (Matt 25:14-29) was also inspirational. We must use what we have been given. If we bury our talents, we lose them. So, I looked at my own house, my own abilities to run a business and be creative. As a result, the gallery idea blossomed and grew and became successful. I could bless others by owning and running a gallery.
Did you start the gallery because you wanted to bless others?
Well, yes. The idea for the gallery came from a concept of inclusion, not competition. There are a lot of different expressions of art, and there are different tastes for all types of art. I wanted to meet the needs of the people in our community by providing them with a variety of artistic expression. I've found that the art in my gallery really isn't in competition. There's room for all of it. It's all about sharing, not withholding. And that's the lesson with the talents. The ones who withhold are impoverished. The ones who give of the light are blessed and enriched. We glow with spiritual talents, and whoever comes into our experience is blessed by it. That's how the gallery came into being. I wanted an inclusive gallery, not an exclusive one. The audience and the artists are one.
How did the passage from Proverbs on womanhood help you break through stereotypes?
These verses value womanhood. They value the woman who is able-minded; who takes care of her family; who is able to work "willingly with her hands" (Prov. 31:13); who "perceiveth that her merchandise is good" (18); who "maketh fine linen, and selleth it" (24); who is not idle; who can multitask. One can be creative and productive at the same time, expressing the Fathering and Mothering qualities of God. The blessings such a woman brings to herself and to her family are wonderful: "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her" (28). Her business is profitable.
We often feel that we have to be different, someone else even, to be successful. As women, we sometimes feel we would be more successful if we were men. But we don't have to be anyone else but ourselves. And we don't have to worry about what we're going to do with our lives, or where we're going, or what others think about us. We just have to accept who we are and what God has given us right now. Even though it may seem that we have very little, what God has given us is enough for a lifetime. Everything I was when I was two or in the fifth grade -- my desire to be creative -- is right here right now. When we accept all the good that is who we truly are, all the stuff that's not so good will melt away as we grow spiritually.
A job is merely a vehicle for expressing God's qualities -- the ones we're given. Psalms has a beautiful passage about the beauty of the lord:
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. (Ps. 50:2)
We express that beauty, whether or not it's in art, business, teaching -- you name it.
Can you explain more about the "oneness" of which you spoke?
Oneness is symbolized by light reflecting light; the light bounces back and forth. The light itself doesn't change, but the activity changes. The one divine Intelligence who created the art also created the observer to respond to it. Those who walk into a gallery and look at the art are really seeing the same "Mind" that expressed the art. It's the one divine Intelligence that made the artwork; and it's the One Intelligence that is looking at the artwork. It's a reflection back and forth.
And by One Intelligence do you mean God?
Yes, God. And understanding the oneness of the creator and creation eliminates competition. It takes all different types of art to express the One Intelligence, and you need all different types of viewers. This oneness is really what it means to be an individual. The word "individual" means not to be divided, to be whole, to be one, complete. So to be an individual you don't have to be deviant. "Deviate" means divided.
That's an incredible perspective -- if you are trying to deviate and be separate, you are not expressing individuality. Yet, it seems that many people, artists in particular, work hard to separate themselves, to be different. What do you think?
Really, to be a true artist, you have to be whole and complete in your own identity, not deviant -- feeble, unhealthy, narcissistic. Art is not narcissistic, self-centered, in its truest sense, even though the world would project that. You don't have to be self-centered or high on drugs or have chemical help to get you into sensual experience. It's not true that sensuality helps you get in touch with the creative force. People who use drugs find that out; they create artificial and superficial art. And the people who use drugs self-destruct. Success isn't about money. That's superficial. Success is about letting your light shine, as Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)
When you get high on something superficial, you're enveloping or growing inward; there's no progress. In order to be truly creative, you can't play God. It's humbling to be creative. When you're humble, when you align yourself with divine unfoldment, you have a greater audience. You touch more hearts, souls, feelings when your art comes from God than when you're seeking your own glory or feeding your own ego. Your art expression becomes more amplified when you're connected with God.
Why? Why is your creative expression more expansive when you're in tune with God?
- Because the artist and the observer are one -- connected by God, or what I like to think of as the one "Mind." The divine Mind has a bigger audience than a little human mind.
- Because you're listening to a universal intelligence who knows all his identities. God knows what people need. When the artist has tapped into that, she or he is going to know what to produce or give.
- Because God's in control of it all. That's why! But if you think it's you personally doing the work, then you don't have the easiest access to that audience.