Innovating Through Artistry

Contestant #11 Arianne Vota Smeets

In Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants on February 21, 2009 at 10:33 am

img_1078When visiting www.votasmeets.com, you’ll find my artistic statement detailing why I made the collection, Aorta Transformata. I wholeheartedly invite you to visit, as it describes why I made the art that depicts the journey of the healing heart in vividly raw, yet beautifully human emotion. Everything I’ve created, I’ve lived. You’ll also get a glimpse of who I am and where I’ve been in my biography. There it states, “After making several life changes in 2007, involving her health, career, marriage, and residence, Arianne began further developing her sculpting skills by working on large-scale, multi-dimensional pieces combining the use of clay and canvas”. In essence, my essay for The Entrepreneurial Artist Contest is not about what you can find on my website. My essay is about what you will not find.

What you will not find listed in my biography is that I was a “no show” the first day of school the year I won the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Local Teacher of the Year award. Instead, there was a substitute. Instead, I was in the hospital. Luckily, I’d been unusually motivated and set up my classroom about a week prior. The doctors said I’d been hemorrhaging so intently that I almost died on the table while having an emergency surgery just a few days before. My students didn’t meet their eccentric teacher, who decked out the classroom with a real stage and twinkling white lights, until a bit later.

Fall of 2006 also brought the death of my marriage and my dog. What my student’s didn’t know was in December before break, my life was in shambles. I know…it sounds like a bad country song.

Although, they didn’t know the full scope of everything, they did once see me cry, not a highlight of my career in education. Sometimes you’re not a teacher or a role model. Sometimes you’re human. Part of what kept me going that year, was my student’s energy and hope. They gave so much more to me that year than I them. Sometimes I’m not sure what I did to deserve them nominating me in droves for the award. There were many things I didn’t do to my usual standards because I was running on empty and hadn’t yet learned to fill my own tank.

Yet, I do know what I did with great consistency. I saw my students as real people – real people who needed understanding, love and compassion. When they cried, I gave them tissues. When they had successes, big or small, we celebrated with grandeur. When it was their birthday, we sang.

What you won’t find on the website, is that the first knowledge of my existence in this world was celebration as a better option than cancer. My birth was not planned, and my mother was a brave superhero. I was never the typical case and all the doctor’s pregnancy tests confirmed – not pregnant. It was only after the x-rays, doctors discovered I wasn’t tumor, but life. My father, who raised, adopted and loved me with all his heart, showed me what true love looks like in action.

Part of my personal journey to love myself was to get over the idea I was somehow a mistake, an inconvenience, or burden. Let me make clear that this isn’t a story about how my parents didn’t love me enough. They did and then some. I just had to join them.

The result, after much therapy and self-reflection, is called Legitimate, an individual piece resembling a heart-shaped checkmark. It hangs with a statement reading, “Some of us just needed a skin suit. Check yourself in”. There are no ‘illegitimate’ people in this world. Not all great things are planned. I am here for a reason. So are you. There are more stories to tell, yet only 1,000 words.

My overall entrepreneurial goal is for the twenty-four piece Rebirth Sequence to live fully in this world, whether it’s bought as a permanent fixture in a public space or a traveling exhibit. It currently lives at Flourish Studios in Chicago until March. 2nd.

While creating it for me, I realized it was for everyone. A quote by Sonia Choquette states, “Healing occurs when a person feels accurately seen. And when they are accurately seen, they feel beautiful. They feel loveable. They feel whole.” As people see themselves reflected, it’s my hope that they can better love themselves and each other. This ripple effect will positively impact the world.

There are several other layers of entrepreneurial scope. One goal is a book which features each work photographed with a corresponding self-written essay and recipe. Yet another goal is to travel the fifty states and create each state’s heart. All hearts are assembled into a large, piece in outline of the USA.

Another goal and the reason for recently earning a culinary arts degree is VOTA: a coffee sanctuary- a place to foster deep conversation and personal enlightenment. At root, it’s an artistic community coffeehouse, with a space that hosts educational activities related to its mission.

Making the art taught me to trust the process of life. Life will bring you exactly what you need, when you need it-like this contest I found this week. Listen and all directions will be clear. Life puts you exactly where you need to be to experience exactly what you need to experience, as the groundwork for your greatness.

Each time the clay broke while molding, it always looked better broken or suggested new direction to the land of surprise and delight. Sometimes relationships need space and air to gain new perspectives and mend the whole. Sometimes your perfect healing will show up unexpectedly, looking really strange. Sometimes you don’t know the whole story. You just know the next step. Take it. If you listen to your gut screaming and reflect, it will lead you home.

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  1. I saw Aorta Transformata and thought it was incredible. Please cast my vote for #11 Arianne Vota Smeets

  2. Arianne does a magificent job of moving emotion through her medium. You can se feel and even “Taste” the love, hate disappointment and joys of her project.

    Please give her your vote, #11 Arianne Vota Smeets.

  3. Arianne’s exhibit, Aorta Transformata, really spoke to the wide range of emotions that the human heart experiences. You can laugh and cry with her. Please cast my vote for #11.

  4. It was my great pleasure to observe the transition and blossoming of this authentic and from the heart and spirit artist. She is a true phenom.

  5. Arianne is a talented, creative soul…after meeting her and seeing her touching work, it made me realize how important supporting such artists expressions are in todays world.

    Moving and thought provoking. Fabulous work!

    I’m casting my vote for #11.

  6. Aorta Transformata is a truly powerful collection which accurately depicts the heart’s journey on its way through heartbreak to discovering self love. Experiencing her art will give hope to the hopeless. Please cast my vote for #11.

  7. Arianne’s art comes so truly from the heart that it is difficult to separate it from life. I found Aorta Transformats to be full of emotion–heart-wrenching and yet joyfully life affirming. Arianne’s tactile imagery magically bridges cynicism and soft sentimentality. She can call up tears or evoke the quiet laughter of recognizing that another person’s follies and your own are virtually inseparable. I cast my vote for #11.

  8. I’m so proud of Arianne’s work. It has blossomed from a creative gift to a friend (me!), into some magnificent art pieces. I am so lucky I have two pieces of her work in my home and would love to add to my collection!!! Arianne really knows how to speak the language of HEART and tell a true story with them.

  9. PS Please cast my vote for #11

  10. Fabulous Exhibit-way too much talent!

  11. Arianne’s Aorta Transformata speaks truth as to the joys and woes of the heart. It leaves one silently contemplative of one’s own heart’s journey. I vote number 11.

  12. Atlas, a creation to bring you THROUGH the wretched to fabulous in one showing. The heart sometimes forgets the potential of healing when it’s broken and also forgets the potential to starve when it’s strong. Whatever craving your heart has, you will receive it while viewing these magnificient displays of art.

  13. Vota Smeets has created a most unique artistic depiction of the life cycle. She has truly captured the essence of the journey of this thing we call life. We have not heard the last of this artist and I am looking forward to her next endeavor…..GO GIRL!!

  14. Please cast my vote for # 11. Her work is poetry without words.

  15. I cast my vote for #11 – her art expresses what my heart cannot.

  16. I cast my vote for #11. As beautiful and deep as her creations are…so is her soul. She never ceases to amaze me and this collection is just that….amazing. The way she captures the raw emotion of everyday sensations in a way that makes everyone feel normal is truly magic. We all want to know we are not crazy for feeling the emotions we do, but Vota Smeets makes feeling crazy…sane

  17. I definitely cast my vote for #11. I met Arianne through my daughter in law Brenda. She is a beautiful person, as is her art. I love that I was able to see her exhibit and visit with her while viewing it. It was a wonderful experience. Her art both challenges your heart and soothes it.

  18. arianne vota smeets is an exceptional artist with so much talent it makes my head spin. Her depiction of a broken heart is mind boggling. You have to see it to believe it. She has gone thorough so much emotion in her life and has truly depicted it. She is #1 in my book and my vote is for #11.

  19. Although her words are touching, I was not moved by the pieces themselves. They are derivitive and elementary. I am certain she will grow as an artist, but for now her ‘work’ seems crafty or bedazzled. Nothing viscerally stirring or porvocative, just eye candy.

  20. I believe that Mara’s perspective on Arianne’s art is flawed and takes a minimalist view of the collection. I believe that she has not truly viewed and understood the art. For if she had, the “opinion” that she has struck would not be appropriate. I’m not sure what elements of “stirring” or “provocation” she is looking for; however, I would argue that the pieces are actually quite evocative and inspiring. In short, it might be time for Mara to reevaluate her outlook on true art. If you actually saw the collection in person, you would agree with the plethora of other previous reviews.

  21. Arianne’s art is therapy for the soul.

  22. Arianne’s art is amazing and real. It has the ability to do what genuine art does- reach inside our souls and provide relatability. It is moving and inspiring- a total experience. Aorta Transformata provided insight that would be the equivalent of years of therapy for me, personally.

  23. I’m very proud of my wonderful cousin Arianne. My vote is for her

  24. No perspective of any *art* is flawed. Art is both a personal/visceral experience and opinion. The beauty of art, of any kind, is that we as individuals see, feel and experience on our own. Engaging in debate over art is enjoyable and stimulating. Trying to convince someone that ‘she didn’t understand the art’ or ‘he takes a minimalist view’ is not debate, but an obstinate and dismissive attitude.
    I don’t need to reevaluate my outlook on ‘true’ art. The suggestion itself is absurd and only contributes to the sheep-like mentality of so many in the art world today. ‘You don’t like this?? Well you don’t know good art!”
    While the pieces may be stirring for you- they are not for me. Period. No amount of criticism of MY criticism can change MY opinion.

  25. We all know that trying to make everyone happy is never a worthy goal. Arianne’s work is not trying to do that. However, it is attempting to help people feel. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s part of what makes this world go round. For me, I’ve never considered myself the art type and not a huge fan of looking inward. But, I just wanted to say here that something in those crazy hearts brought up real emotion for me. That counts for something in my book.

  26. At the beginning, when Arianne told me exactly what she was planning on doing in regards to her art…I will gladly admit I was quite shaken. Not only for the sole fact of what it represents, or the stories attached….but for what it can do for someone who is so greatly hurt. To say that Arianne’s art has been therapeutic would be a massive understatement. Numerous times, people viewing the collection have responded with incredible emotion. Not only of shock, but genuine gratitude that someone else has gone through something so painful and had the courage to come out of it for the better. In showing the pain she has gone through in her life, she has been able to show others that it is not only possible to rise up and recreate yourself from even the darkest, loneliest, most miserable depths, but to absolutely shine in doing so. I have never been more proud and thankful to know such a beautiful person and her gift. Therefore, without the slightest hesitation, I cast my vote for contestant #11.

  27. It is incredible to read what has been written here about my work and about me. There are comments above that I will treasure for rest of my days. Whatever happens tomorrow, I just wanted to thank each of you for taking the time to make an impact. May life smile on you all. Love, Love, Love…

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