I love stories about people who have devoted their life to a creative passion waiting years for recognition and approval.
It took Carmen Herrera, a Cuban-American abstract, minimalist painter, 89 years to sell her first painting. Herrera, who turned 100 in May 2016, was born in Havana and has lived in New York City since the mid-1950s. All these years she quietly painted not worrying about success or recognition. Only in the past decade did Herrera’s abstract works bring her international appreciation. In 2004 Agnes Gund, president emeritus of the Museum of Modern Art, bought several works by Herrera and donated one of her black-and-white paintings to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The Tate Modern in London, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. have also acquired her works.
You might call her a late bloomer, but that would be too simple an explanation. She had a compulsion to paint and she just keeps at it, even at 100.
It wasn’t until her 60s that Judi Dent was seen on the big screen as James Bond’s boss in the 1995 film GoldenEye. Then, at 64, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love.
Kathryn Bigelow, the director of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, was the first woman to win an Academy Award for best director. She started making movies in the ’80s, after an early career as a painter and conceptual artist in Manhattan. Finally, at 57, in 2009 she was recognized by the movie industry for her long dedication to directing. At 65 she’s become a vocal advocate for gender discrimination in Hollywood. “I have always firmly believed that every director should be judged solely by their work, and not by their work based on their gender,” she told Time. “Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward-thinking and progressive people, yet this horrific situation for women directors persists. Gender discrimination stigmatizes our entire industry. Change is essential. Gender neutral hiring is essential.”
You go girl!
As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his New Yorker piece Late Bloomers, “On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure.” Sounds a little dire, but the takeaway from Gladwell’s piece is solid says Gabriel Bell on refinery29.com. “All that time you’re spending not being an amazing success may very well be practice for becoming a shining star later on. While prodigies are rising and flaming out, you’re honing your craft, seriously considering your path, experimenting with different outcomes and working out what will make you successful.”
I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure. I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually. ~ Artist Carmen Herrera (Born 1915)
Success has nothing to do with age — it has to be more about keeping at your craft, the right timing and adding a little magic to your passion. I know there are a lot of ‘late bloomers’ out there in the High Desert and I encourage you to keep up with your pursuit…