Ed note: Emily Peacock is a Houston-based artist, and an art professor at Sam Houston State University. She recently closed her solo exhibition Pure Comedy at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. Find her work here via Jonathan Hopson Gallery, a review of one of her shows here, and her 2016 guest spot on a Top Five video here.
I have never been more confident than I have this last week that I am meant to be an artist. To be clear, I didn’t say “great artist.” I said artist. As in: I cannot stop creating things. Photographs, cyanotypes, t-shirts, a cake, sculptures, writing jokes and bits, and making videos. Hell, I’m flocking everything. I try not to but I can’t help it. I mean, how will I know what Jell-O looks like when flocked if I never do it. (It didn’t work but it was fun.)
I have always joked about how I should have been a veterinarian. I wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember. When I was nine years old I was a vet for Halloween; I wore scrubs and carried around my most life-like stuffed cat. I had a stylish, soccer-mom pixie haircut at the time, and everyone kept calling me “sir” and asking if I was a doctor? I would abruptly correct them: “I’m a veterinarian and I’m a girl.” Anyway, for the last week I haven’t thought about being a vet. I mean, I have taken care of our three cats and two dogs, but I’ve been making so much stuff.
I’ve been thinking: why is this? Have I always been this way and never noticed, or is this new? This mandatory time at home has made me think a lot. I know I am not alone in this For one, I don’t have FOMO anymore. One of the biggest challenges of having a child (which I do) is that you’re no longer are able to go where you want to go when you want to. So, almost needless to say, I didn’t go out much in pre-quarantine life. Though I miss seeing my friends family so much. (I did drunk Facetime with Jennie Ash and Dennis Nance the other night.) I am enjoying not feeling like I’m missing every opening, screening and bar meet-up.
The second thing impacting my newfound sense of purpose is my job. I love my job. I love teaching. I love teaching even when it is on Zoom and my son and dog are being so loud I can barely concentrate. I love it and I think I might be good at it. I know that sounds pompous (some would say especially coming from a woman), but I honestly think I am a good teacher; my mother was an excellent teacher, and I take pride in my teaching, and it makes me happy to think that she would be proud of me. I was a difficult teenager (to put it lightly) and I am certain she worried about how I might end up.
The third reason has to do with my family. I am happy. I have struggled with depression and loss for so long. My husband Patrick and my son Indiana are the best things that ever happened to me. Most days I am a hurricane of making things, along with feeding, playing, watching movies, and jumping in the bounce castle (which currently has sand in it, and it is making me crazy). Patrick and I take turns being with Indiana, who is three, and giving each other space. Both supporting each other’s ideas even if they are awful or random. We are basically playing an adult game of show-and-tell. I focus on them, and in turn I find myself in what I think may be my natural state of happiness.
It’s fucking crazy it took a pandemic for me to have this realization. But here I am, sitting in my studio, surrounded by books, toys, spray paint, my cameras, cyanotypes… and writing about a profound moment I just had, and I know this is a privilege.