Today was unlike any other, a rare visit to the inner sanctum of a major museum. I am in Minneapolis and met the curators at the Minneapolis Museum of Art. This time together gave me an amazing inside view of how curators make decisions about acquisitions and other behind-the-scenes insights.
This is in stark contrast to my situation over a year ago when I was first invited to make a Seder plate for the Dorothy Saxe Invitational at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. I felt that this was a special opportunity but would require unusual effort to participate with a stellar group of other invitees.
Starting in July 2008, I decided to put all other artwork aside to focus my attention on this Seder plate. I still remember days of torment and misgiving. Will it turn out OK? I invested 100's and 100's of hours into one piece determined to make the best Seder plate I possibly could. Could I really achieve museum-quality work? The isolation and challenge to make a piece unlike any I had ever made before led to recurring moments of self-doubt.
But today, I saw my Seder plate Eons of Exodus at the Minneapolis Institute of Art displayed front and center in the Judaica collection. And, yes, I AM smiling. It's like winning a marathon. I know how exhausting it was to make this with no certainty of any recognition.
I just want to encourage anyone out there to always strive for excellence. There may be no accolades other than the knowledge that you did your best. Our society provides ample pressure for faster, quicker, and less expensive - ignore these external signals.
In contrast, occasionally, curators, collectors, and donors will indeed see what you have accomplished and share it with others.
My deepest thanks go out to the curators and donors of the Minneapolis Museum of Art.
This post was updated on December 28, 2021.