I always wanted to be an artist. I always was an artist to tell you the truth. My earliest memories before kindergarten was growing up in San Jose, California and the neighbor kid who lived a few houses up from me. I would be at his house hanging out and we always drew and painted together. I remember they had standard poodles and he had match box cars and you know how they would give those poodles those fake fancy haircuts? We would pretend they were roads and we would drive the little matchbox cars on the roads.
His name was Matthew and we painted side by side all through kindergarten and I worked on painting every single day with an odd seriousness. And if you look in my studio right now you will see that there is a space and a table and a chair and an easel for someone to come and paint with me. And I always have this space for someone to come and paint with me and it has just been that way for my whole life.
I went to Catholic schools and I didn’t really get a lot of art but I learned to work really hard. One time, though when I was in seventh grade somebody said, “Do you want to do art?” I said, “Yeah!” So, they told me to go upstairs to room so in so and I was, “All right.”
So, I go up there to do some art. What it was was a bunch of construction paper and you know how teachers put these letters up on their bulletin boards? I was supposed to trace them off and cut out the letters. So, I decided I was going to make my own letters. I was going wild on this, man, thinking these are great! This is like, “What do you want straight letters for? I am going to give you some letters!”
I made up my whole alphabet, and I am cutting them out and everything and my friend, Theresa, who is still my friend to this day, goes, “Jane, you are going to get in trouble.” And I am like, “What for?”
Theresa says, “You are not supposed to do that. Look here is the pattern, you trace the pattern and you cut them out.” I knew it but that sucks! I was making my own. Then this nun comes around and she is checking everyone’s work and she comes up to me and she goes, “These are great! These are wonderful!” and she loved my letters. That was great. So, I look at my friend Theresa, like “MMMMHMM… “and I just kept making them.
As I went on in school I heard all the time that you couldn’t make a living doing art. Oddly I would hear it from people who loved me dearly but not my parents, they never said I couldn’t be an artist, they never discouraged me or anything. I remember my senior year in high school was when I took my first art class. I got a lot of encouragement for being a really good artist but I never really did see it. I was always kind of like hot shit with the art.
I was determined to make it. I paid my own way through school. I was on my own the minute I got that high school diploma. I ran away from home many times when I was younger and I stayed away for months at a time. I stayed away for seven months once and I didn’t miss a day of school. Well, I did, what am I saying? I used to get to the end of the week and if I hadn’t missed a day I would take Fridays off. I did that. The point is that I got my high school diploma because I knew I had to have it. I knew I was going to do something with my life. I knew it.
I was sitting in my studio one day. I have notebooks where I draw but I mostly just write my thoughts and I am writing my thoughts down and it hit me, “Look at how far you have come with this art.” I have come from my early childhood until now and I have never stopped. I remember just writing this in a book and I wrote this: ‘Jane the universe has made a space for you. Step into it.’ It was like my higher self was writing to my lower self. And I said, “Okay!"
From then on, I notice every now and then that there is a parting and the Universe has made a space for me. And if I don’t step into it, it closes back up. And I never let it close back up. I see this opening for other people. I see the opportunity for them to advance in a certain way and they don’t take it because of fear of some sort and I think, “Huh, maybe it is a priority thing but I wouldn’t have missed that.” But I will step into it and I will own it. It is mine because the Universe gave it to me. It parted and it is just a spot for me to step into. And every single time that happens I won’t miss it.
How do you recognize it? It is just there. People say it is hard work. I don’t know why I have worked so hard, it is just something I had to do. Now I need three hundred more years for what I feel I can put out. This is the quickening now. That I can really put it out. I can do it, I will do it and I am going to do it.
I am Jane Filer and Jane Filer is this thing, this thing. It is not me. It is an entity all its own that the Universe formed but it wanted life and it plugged into me and I gave it life. It has got everything it needs to stand on its own two feet long after I leave this planet. I am making the highest quality art that I have in my being to make and I know that the deeper I go into myself the more I can find and the deeper I go into that new depth, that new instinctive insight, that blithering genius that every single person on this planet has in them if you are willing to go there. Which is scary. And I feel scared and I say to myself, “Jane, don’t you dare be afraid of your power. Do it, Do it.”
And you know what this does? It causes inspiration and what does inspiration do but make the human race better. To go into positive good places. We’ve got a lot in us that is beautiful and it is good and it perpetuates itself. It is really cool.
Debra Wuliger, figurative artist working with color, texture and pattern to celebrate life.
Image silhouetted with story. Ready for hanging.