Reading Matters

Rutenberg: Pain is a great teacher

Brian Rutenberg
Brian Rutenberg savvypainter

In a collection of short essays, “Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits,” by Brian Rutenberg, the South Carolina artist now living in New York, writes about rejection.

“Pain is a great teacher. I mentioned earlier that I keep a pillowcase full of rejection letters in my studio as a reminder of the role that failure played in galvanizing me. If you’re afraid of looking like a fool, then please quit now. Society doesn’t look to artists for sound, responsible decision making; our job is to strip naked and stand in traffic. Early in my career, I sent out hundreds of envelopes full of slides to galleries, and all of them were returned, some without as much as a form letter. It was depressing, but I kept going; all it takes is one nibble.”