Transcript for “What happens when you believe in yourself?” with Deane Bowers
Yay . The meeting is here. Yes.
Awesome. We’re Hi everyone. Hey,
Hey, we’re here. Art is Moving’s Podcast, Lauren. We’re really, really excited. We have a guest who has been with before excited. And, Deane, why don’t you kinda reintroduce yourself to our audience.
I would love to. Hi everybody. My name is Deane Bowers. I am an artist and I live outside of Charleston, South Carolina. I was on the podcast this time last year telling everybody about a project I did during the pandemic with 18 other artists from nine states called The Together While Apart Project. And so I just wanted to bring everybody up to date on that project and how it is, um, spur a few more or sparked a few more projects that I’m working on.
Yeah, so, you know, we obviously are in conversation with you all the time because you’re one of our buddies and an art advocate, just like us. So we like to stay connected and see what you’re up to. Um, and yeah, like you said, you have a bunch of other projects going on. This project even sparked a fundraising campaign, something you just never thought you would get yourself into, but you did, which we think is amazing and awesome. And so the question we came up with for you today is what happens when you believe in yourself? You know, no matter what, let’s start there and just, you know, because I think that’s a really important question for everyone to ask themselves. And I think artists tend to have to really almost fight to believe in themselves and remind themselves of that. So let’s kind of talk about it from angle. So what does happen when you believe in yourself, Deane?
It’s amazing. And you realize that there’s not a gatekeeper and that a lot of times you are your, you are your own worst enemy holding you back. And what I found is I had to get really quiet and figure out why I was afraid to do things and what would happen if I switched. I can’t, I don’t know how. I’m too scared with why the heck not. And so I did that and it took getting quiet and taking a lot of time away from social media and not worrying about followers or algorithms or web sales or any of that. And just really concentrating on what personally lights me up as an artist and where I feel the most alive. Then I thought to myself, what would I want to tell myself five years ago if I were in this position? And what, how will I want to look back in five years and see myself? Will I be so proud? Or will I be like, God, I wish I had taken that chance. For me, I’m not getting any younger and I think with age comes a lot of wisdom and experience and a lot of like, why not? Go for it. I’m not getting any younger and nobody’s gonna present me an opportunity on a golden platter if I wanna make it happen, I’ve gotta do it myself.
So, yeah, dive into the, if you have any specific fears that you had and how you overcame them.
I think it’s the fear that we all have that we’re not enough. That what is somebody gonna think is just that, that terrible criticism or that terrible voice inside of our head. And to be honest, most people are so doing their own thing in their own lane. They don’t really think twice. It’s, uh, it’s us being our own worst enemies. And I found that with myself. I can be my own worst enemy, but I also can be my own best cheerleader. And so I had to do a lot of soul searching and a lot of work and figuring out why that fear was my, um, default mechanism instead of Let’s go for it, let’s rock this and inspire. And, um, I just, I, I don’t know. I just, I got to a point that I was sick of standing on the sidelines and I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself and bigger than my own artwork. And I wanted to get off the hamster wheel of social media and seeking, um, approval from outside sources when it really just matters. You know, what I think at the end of the day. So.
So you’ve been through some huge transformation with this project?
I really have. I really have. And I hope that it’s been a trickle down to the other artists involved because I feel like when we get lit up, then we pass that spark on and other people around us are like, I want what she has. And, I just think it’s such a gift not only to ourselves, but the people we come in contact with because we just breed positivity and inspiration and, um, support. So, I just can’t recommend it enough. Get off social media for approval. That’s not where you’re gonna find it.
Yeah. Okay. So update us on this Together While Apart Project and the web it created and the tangents it went on and stuff. Let us know.
I love that the web it created. So this time last year when I was speaking with you all, it had started traveling around to various hospitals and museums on a 10 month temporary exhibition. It was a piece that was three feet by four feet and it was made up of 35 cardboard square. So it all started with a cardboard square that 18 artists besides myself created. And during the process of it being on temporary exhibition, I was also going through submission processes with hospitals about permanent acquisition. And there was one hospital in particular I just hit it off with the art curator. We had such a positive relationship and she saw beyond just the artwork, she saw the spirit and that’s what I really wanted. So long story short they decided they really wanted the artwork, They wanted it that day, but they were willing to honor the commitment I’d already made in the temporary exhibitions.
And we set a date for June for me to bring it to them. And it was installed. That was at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. And it’s purely coincidental that I am an alumni there. I’m a terrible alumni. And that had really had no bearing on it. And that my youngest daughter, who is a nurse, graduated from nursing school there. So it was just all a matter of coincidence and it just was a beautiful coincidence. And I am still very close to the art curator to this day and time. And I talked to her once a week because we developed a relationship over the course of a year. So, I really wanted to do something special with this artwork. I wanted the legacy to be more than just a piece of art, which it is, but I wanted to have a philanthropic role for it as well.
I wanted to do something that involved healthcare workers as a way to support and thank them as well as a mental health component because I feel like the pandemic really took a, a toll on so many, so many people’s wellbeing. And so I reached out to about 30 non-profits. And one of my caveats was I didn’t wanna handle the money, I wanted it to run through that nonprofit and I wanted it to be you a tax deductible type of contribution. And the American Nurses Association, within 30 minutes of my reaching out to them, they responded and said, We’d love to work with you. Let’s do something. And they were so open. This was a new kind of fundraising campaign for them because it was open ended and it was, it’s just not something they’ve ever done before.
And usually it was around an event, like there was an artist who was running a marathon raising money for the same wellness initiative, but this was based on an art project. And so we decided to call the project The Together While Apart Thank You Nurses Project and all of the money raised goes towards ensuring that nurses around the country receive the mental wellness and the physical wellness care they need, as well as any kind of financial, planning they might need and job enrichment. So it was just right up my alley and it just felt good to be able to give back with this beautiful artwork. So, that’s where we are right now. We’re still working on reaching our total, which is, our goal is $20,200, which is a play on the numbers 2020, which is the year our healthcare professionals became rockstar heroes. And so our general ask of people is only $20 and 20 cents and year to date right now we’ve raised about 13,500. So, we’re gonna get there. I don’t know when, but we’re gonna get there.
What a journey. I mean, want a journey
It really has been
From looking in the mirror and facing your fears to connecting artists to giving to the nurses. Have you gotten any feedback from nurses?
Oh my gosh, they just light up. They are so touched and because they feel seen and heard and I know, I have a in line with my daughter because she is a nurse and she said, you know, we went from getting applauses at the end of shifts and people bringing us dinner on the floors at the end of shifts to being either fussed at because we’re overworked and overwhelmed or we’re treated like we’re invisible. And that just broke my heart. And every story I have read about healthcare professionals right now and the status they, or the situation they’re in breaks my heart. So I feel like as a country, they pulled us through the pandemic and they’re the backbone of our healthcare system and a lot of our communities. So I had to do whatever I could in my power to support and thank them and let them know that 19 artists out in this country see you and we honor you and we just respect what you, what you do.
Art is is that amazing tool of sort of, it’s almost like an awareness, but also an intimate conversation. Because if I think about the fact that the Together While Apart Project was about creating a community when, when we couldn’t be physically near one another and you’re, you’re extending that community to the nurses by a fundraiser.
And so what do you think having the artwork adds to the fundraising element of it? Because like you said, a lot of times fundraisers are like, I’m gonna run a marathon. So what, what is it that art adds to it?
I think it adds, Well art is such a healer, as you all know, and I also think it just shows people that you can, if you have something you’re passionate about, you can create a fundraiser or a project around it. And I just was so passionate about how we created community from afar at such a scary, hopeless time that this artwork stands for you know, light and positivity and being dedicated to healthcare professionals just felt like it was a really good fit to base a fundraising campaign around it.
This is just brainstorming, but wouldn’t it be amazing to incorporate the nurses to do art?
I would love to do that down the road Yes. To have somebody say, Hey, I would love for you to come in and do some kind of project with the nurses. Because as we all know, once you work with your hands and get out of your head and into your heart, the healing can begin. And art is such a component of that. And so many people say, Well, I’m not creative. I’m not creative, but we all are. And that’s the beauty of the next project I’m working on is because I have a lot of participants who are not artists, but I think we’re all creative by the way we dress or how we decorate our house or lay out the food on our plate or decorate our bookshelves. Everybody is creative. You just have to let that voice shine through.
Yeah. You have to, Well, just like you did Deane, Lisa and I call it your inner critic, it’s this little troll, right? That sits on your shoulder and everybody, everybody has that, not just artists, but everybody has that in some way in their life. You flicked that troll off your shoulder to make this project happen and then make this fundraiser happen. And it’s almost like we have to help people, and this is what Lisa and I are always trying to do, help people flick their own troll off their shoulder about what role creativity can play in their life. That it, it’s not really about the thing you’re making, it’s about the experience you’re having while you’re in the process.
And I had to think, Yeah, go ahead. I’m sorry to interrupt you.
No, go ahead. You, you go.
I had to think, well, like I said, I have never raised money before. I hate asking people for money. I am so outta my conference zone with this fundraiser, but I so believe in supporting these nurses. And one thing I reflected on is I am stubborn. I am, I’ve got a stubborn streak, a mile wide in me, but what if I turned that stubborn negativity that’s around stubbornness and turned it into something I’m passionate about and let that positive energy push me through to completion? And so that’s what I’m trying to do. My other bad quality is I’m very impatient. So I’m trying to flip that impatient on its ear to be more of a savory, uh, a calming. And, I hadn’t gotten there yet, but I’m working on it. And, I guess acknowledgement is the first, the first lesson or the first hurdle to get over.
Yeah, it’s awesome.
It’s amazing. It’s like you expanded from this whole experience.
Well, I did, and after this experience, I started another project with 22 other participants. I won’t say there are a lot of artists. There are a lot of non artists from around the country. And the caveat with this second project, it’s called the Fresh Start Project, it’s about how once you know, we got back to New normal after the pandemic, we all had to start over again. And a lot of the participants in this project were coming off of either a new job, a new move, a divorce, having their children leave for college roles were changing. So I, I encourage them, What does a fresh start mean to you? And to put it down. Once again, we’re using the cardboard squares and it is just amazing what people are coming up with for what a fresh start represents to them. Whether it’s an image of a butterfly or a paddler on a river, or somebody who’s walking through a maze of sticks. It’s just, it’s so heartwarming. And so for me as the creator of these projects, I feel like these women have entrusted me with their imagination and creativity. And so it’s up to me to use it to its highest capacity and to bring, to reach as many people as I can and spread as much joy as I can collectively with both of these projects.
I love it. So one last thing. What would you say to someone who has that idea in the back of their head? you know, how do you believe in yourself no matter what?
Just one step at a time, and like you said, take that troll, give it a name if you have to as an alter ego,
I definitely have. Yeah.
And just put it in the back seat. And I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Big Magic. I don’t know if you all have read that book, but it’s dog eared in my art studio and she talks about fear and how fear can come along for the ride. That’s okay. But it just can’t be in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat. It has to get in the back seat . And I love that analogy. And so I keep thinking, what would I do if I didn’t have fear? And that always drives me forward and to take risk. And it is scary, but that’s when you surround yourself with a community of people who are just as positive and inspiring and who will see the best and help you find the best in whatever you wanna, um, tackle. And you can always reach out to me because I, you know, I am all, all over people doing what lights them up. I just think that’s the special joy and magic that we all need to get through.
Yeah. Art is magic.
It really is.
How can people get a hold of you?
Okay. First of all, you can go on my website, which is www.deanevbowersart.com I’m also on Instagram @TogetherWhileApartArtProject and @TheFreshStartArtProject and @DeaneVBowersArt I would love, even if somebody wants to reach out and say, Hey, I need a little dose of courage, I would be happy to just give you a little push.
I love that. I love that. Just kind of passing it on. You know, let’s do more of that.
Exactly. We need to uplift and elevate each other instead of squashing, you know, each other down.
Super. I completely agree.
That’s what both of these art projects have been about, is elevating the people involved because then we go out in the world and pass it on to the people we come in contact with, and it’s just a beautiful domino reaction.
It is beautiful. I love it. Well, thanks for coming and giving us an update. We’ll keep in touch and we’ll put all the links in all the descriptions wherever we put the video so people can find you and donate to nurses.
Oh, thank you.
Awesome. Thank you so much. Awesome.
Thank you all. Thank you. Bye. Art is Radiance
Art is Radiance.
I love that. Yeah. Art is magic.