I guess I can’t say I’m not an artist

Joan Concilio |

Wormhole Continuum - 2017 - acrylic ink on Yupo synthetic paper - Joan Concilio

One of my recent creations, Wormhole Continuum (named by my space-loving daughter), is part of a 13-piece solo show at Penn State College of Medicine.

“Art is a thing I do.”

“I make art.”

“I like messing around with art, you know, like a hobby.”

These are all things you’ll hear me say.

What you won’t hear me say?

“I’m an artist.”

That sounds… serious. Like someone who should be able to sketch a face that looks vaguely realistic and not like a 4-year-old’s drawing. Like someone who can use shading and perspective to give texture. Like someone who can look at her dog and realize he’s not actually black, he’s brown and purpley-grey and hundreds of other nuanced colors.

I am not that someone.

I like abstract art. I like collage. I like scrapbooking. I like trying new creative things, even if they do often look like someone with zero professional training trying new creative things.

I felt pretty strongly about this whole not-an-artist thing for a long time. It was almost a talisman – if I say I’m not an artist, I don’t have to worry if I’m not accepted to this show. I can “Not For Sale” that piece I really don’t want to part with. (Or, you know, those 57 pieces I don’t want to part with…) I can turn down chances to stretch my skills by creating publicly, because that’s “for real artists.”

I’d been slowly changing my mind, and occasionally had been heard to tell people, almost apologetically, upon having them ask me questions about my gallery work, “Yeah, I’ve been an artist for several years.”

Today, I’m giving up the talisman. It’s time, and I get to share some really cool news.

I’m an artist, and 13 of my pieces are being featured in a solo show from March 13 to June 30, 2017.

I work at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, part of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center complex. We have a huge art program, where community artists share their work in patient and staff areas around campus. And for spring and summer 2017, I’m going to be the featured artist in the hallways and rooms of our Simulation Center.

The Sim Center is an amazing place. All of our medical and physician assistant students pass through there for training, and outside professionals like anesthesiologists come regularly for simulation training to help them maintain their skills. It’s set up like a miniature medical center, with patient treatment rooms, conference spaces and so on, and it’s all going to be filled with my art.

That’s pretty amazing.

You might even say it makes me a real artist.