Sometimes I’d rather call myself a “maker” or “craftsperson” instead of an “artist”. It’s probably a combination of the ‘starving artist’ stigma I grew up around, along with associating Fine Art with gallery spaces instead of online stores. So, when different friends kept sending me links to apply to Lume’s first Art Collective, I was nervous! But ultimately, I took that as a little act of faith, as Lume’s vision to showcase the intersection between art, mental health and Christianity really resonates with my journey.
To be honest, I had all these grand plans for a collaborative installation artwork when I first applied. But, after a hectic year, I ended up leaving it to the last minute and truly scrambled to put something together. Using what I had in the studio, I created this arrangement and thought, “Man, now I’m going to have to make some kind of meaning out of it!”. But Art is mysterious that way, because it didn’t take long to realise what each flower meant to me. I’m always surprised to discover the deeper things that drive me in life; memories, feelings, dreams and desires, that I don’t recognise amidst daily business.
I’ll admit, when exhibition day arrived and I walked into that room, I avoided going anywhere near my artwork for a good hour! It was so nerve-wracking realising that hundreds of eyes would be seeing my work, so I distracted myself by looking at everyone else’s first (a worthwhile distraction, everyone did amazing!). But it turned out to be a lot of fun. I got to meet so many lovely, like-minded folk passionate about sharing their stories through art. Friends who normally don’t come to “Artsy” things came to have a look too, and getting to introduce them to something different was really great. When I finally dared look at my artwork, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Even though it wasn’t what I’d planned for, it ended up being an honest expression of why I love making paper flowers so much, and the journey God has brought me through.
“Consider the Wildflowers” sits on my dining room table now and brings such lightness to our home. I thought about taking it apart or selling it, but I somehow feel like it was made to stay with me.
So if you’re a crafty-maker-person and thinking about entering an art exhibition for the first time, I think you should do it! The lines between art, crafts, and life aren’t too clear or scary to cross after all. Remember that you were made with gifts and talents, and there are people out there whose lives will be made better because you chose to share them. Your gifts are precious, as are you!
Consider the Wildflowers | Carrissa Wu (2021)
Crepe paper, Wire, Glue, Floral tape, Hand-painted Glass Jar. Mixed Media Sculpture.
Each paper flower in this arrangement brings me back to a memory I treasure. Peonies from my wedding bouquet, Jacarandas from our first Spring in Perth, Cherry Blossoms from the first time my husband met my family. Proteas from the supermarket my grandma loved to visit, Sunflowers I'd see every day on the bus ride home from school. I think of flowers whenever I remember how God has shown his love and faithfulness in my life. If he cares enough to clothe plants with such beauty, how much more does this prove his love for us? Making flowers requires me to hand-cut, shape and assemble each petal and leaf. It is a meditative process that invites me to examine all the tiny details God bothers with when it comes to our lives, of how precious this makes every fleeting moment of each day.
Image of my artwork “Consider the Wildflowers”, photographed by Henri Pham.