(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

I’m pretty sure sophisticated isn’t an adjective much applied to me and my writing. Down-to-earth, irreverent, innovative, strange, revelatory, and traditional (and yet not) are just a few descriptions that might work. But I don’t even care to approach sophisticated on any level.

Sophisticated just sounds snobby to me at the same time it sounds a little too worried about what other people think.

I understand being worried about what others think, but there’s only so much of that worrying you can do before you and your work stop being authentic. That feels a little bit too much like junior high to me—and I didn’t really succeed at being anything but myself back then either.

Not sure if I’ve said it here before, but if so, I’ll say my opinion in my unsophisticated way again. Most of us suck at pretending to be what we are not.

One of the values I most wanted to teach my children is that they should try to be who they are, not who others want them to be. This seemed to be a surprisingly odd parenting value in my generation. From parents choosing the sports or activities their kids should do to picking their college majors and selecting their classes, many of my peers seem pretty set on deciding what or who their kids should be.

Maybe it’s because my first and only babies are twins. We parents like to think we’re so all-powerful about how our kids turn out, but I can promise you that my babies demonstrated very unique personalities and temperaments from week one. And that is freeing to realize. While the experts loved to say that an anxious mother (during pregnancy? after the birth?) led to a fussy baby, why did I only have one who screamed for hours at a time? Was I only stressed on one side of my body during the pregnancy? Where’s the logic in that?

My now grown kids to this day have chosen to accept some of the values I sought to teach them and rejected others—maybe on that premise that they are who they are or maybe just because they refuse to be told how to think or who knows why?

But I’m pretty certain my anti-sophisticated approach to life is one thing they’ve retained.

So no wonder my daughter is having some troubles reconciling her artistic vision with the one taught in her drawing program. You see, these kids who study the arts really need to research the philosophies of the programs where they plan to attend, but so often at 18 or 19 you’re busy thinking about the overall culture of a college. Unfortunately, she didn’t really read enough into how her university describes its approach and vision.

Guess what? The program’s aim is what? Producing artists who produce sophisticated works.

Unless she was truly a rebel, she stood little chance of even being drawn to that type of art, being raised in this house. We’re just folks here. We are who we are—which is, by the way, very intelligent and creative—but we are not into creating works to impress. We are more into creating a life where creativity is the norm and our processes and end products are about providing meaning but not an elevated meaning.

So she draws (incredibly) with common tools such as Sharpie markers and ballpoint pens. Her art veers more toward urban and street art than high form. But it’s good. And it’s hers.

And that’s a form of sophistication all in itself—knowing the art you want to produce and doing so despite what everyone else says you should be doing. After all, the word comes from sophia, the Greek for wisdom. To thine own self be true is really one of the wisest statements of all.

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