Artists may never have the most admired or respected profession; that goes to doctors, lawyers and engineers, according to the Varkey Foundation.
Yet emerging artists do not need to be berated or disrespected, at an art event or anywhere. Mint Artists have experienced this, just a couple of times, in what obviously was an illegal and discriminatory hazing based on race or religion.
So they must learn the art of verbal self-defense.
Recently, we heard leadership coach Laura Khalil share her approach to fending off dismissive statements or comments that belittle, sexualize or undermine us.
She has two immigrant parents; “I’m the whitest Arab you’ll ever meet,” Khalil told InterMitten conference attendees. So she may have experienced commentary that minimized her talent or marginalized her.
Her verbal self defense technique is simple, and requires the artist or young person to remain outwardly calm and collected. “When you are stunned by a statement…. Ask a question in response,” Khalil said. Questions such as these:
- “Did you really just say that?”
- “Would you speak to your daughter that way?”
- “Do you know how that makes you sound?”
- “Why are you so emotional?” (Or judgmental or whatever it is the person has just accused you of being.)
Her approach is simple, direct and worthwhile – and aimed at anyone. Here’s some questions developed by Mint that are specific to emerging artists’ denigrating comments:
- “Where did you earn your Ph.D. in visual arts?” Say it with a smile.
- “If you’re going to give me a lecture, could you wait until I enroll in your class?”
- “When are you moving along to quash someone else’s dreams?”
- “When you dismiss my work, how do you think that reflects on your attitude and outlook?”
Address the comment head on, and attempt to de-escalate and disarm the person who is saying unkind things, Khalil said.
And count on Mint and the artists around you to build up your courage and confidence and appreciate the beauty of your work.
© Vickie Elmer 2019
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