Productive Disruptions: Life Happens When Art Happens

Nicole Lasquety
4 min readDec 31, 2023

My Year in Art 2023

Art vs. Artist 2023

Over the latter half of the year, my family would catch me awake very early or asleep on our couch which is not big enough for sleeping in, so I am not able to stretch, and sometimes wake up with my back sore. Next to me are my art materials and works in progress. But when my parents catch me awake, they ask, “Did you sleep?” No. Damn it. I should have lied. At what point will I stop getting scolded for staying up late?

They remind me that the doctor particularly ordered that I have to sleep. I tell them I’d fall back into depression faster if I didn’t finish my artworks. I dismiss the urge to tell them I can’t even stomach the possibility that I won’t finish executing even a fourth of the ideas I had this year by the end of the year. I think I don’t need to explain to them that this is what I chose, and I know the sacrifice it would entail and the possibility that I may not end up getting to make art as a career.

My art instructor once said, “When art calls you, it is always the right time.” She was speaking to a class of different ages, with different occupations, at different skill levels. She asked us why we enrolled in the course and what our expectations were. She was talking about how some may find it impractical to pick up a brush for the first time in their old age. Some may find other professions to guarantee more security. She was addressing all of us. Sure. That explains why I’m sleep-deprived. And just as I try to squeeze in a few minutes of shut-eye only to paint for longer hours, our dog chews on my paintbrush, climbs on the sofa, and starts walking on my back as if to tell me to finish my artwork before taking a rest!

Doodle of our dog Basi walking on my back with a paintbrush in his mouth

It’s only recently that I found the words for something I learned years ago: art is a productive disruption that negates other disruptions. Art is a sign of life, and maybe me making art is a sign of health which I hadn’t had in years. This year, I’ve conceptualized and written about a series of series-es of artworks (a separate series for different themes). I try not to be sad thinking about what more I would have come up with if I never fell into mania and depression. Is the flow of ideas really tied to health? Yet even then, the only way I knew I hadn’t become completely apathetic was that even when I couldn’t find the will to get out of bed, my hands still found something to create. I literally thought, I wish I never wake up again, but I also still have some stuff to do.

Some Eastern religions say that desire is the opposite of happiness and contentment. Yet as Abigail Thorn says in her video essay on PhilosophyTube “Beauty in Times of Ugly”, “Why would we ever create anything if we never desired anything?” That’s what she defined as depression, and I don’t think there is any better way to describe it.

It’s almost New Year’s eve, the time of the year again when I look back to see if I’ve done enough or if I’ve fallen short. I use Emily Esfahani Smith’s TED talk on the Four Pillars of Meaning as a parameter: Belongingness, Purpose, Transcendence, and Storytelling. As I assess whether I check all the boxes, I realize all of them are tied to art! From the friends I made in the same industry, to moments where my petty problems that seem larger than life are rendered small in comparison to getting to be part of something truly larger than myself, to finding my voice in metaphor, and connecting with strangers over art.

I’ve recently been able to connect with people who would message or write to me about how they relate to or see themselves in my art/writing. Virtually all my art and writing are personal (if it isn’t obvious by now), and I don’t even know who reads what I put out most of the time, but when someone responds to it, I remember the time people told me not to quit because I will be able to help someone in the future, and maybe make them feel less alone, hopeless, or misunderstood. I even found myself saying the same thing to a younger person who was in the same position I was before.

Art has become my whole world, and my world was never that big, but stick around long enough and you’ll find that it’s quite a rabbit hole! This year I’ve learned that life happens when art happens. You never know what might happen when you start creating. For me, it was nothing short of serendipity. I’m looking forward to 2024 and the years ahead. And I’m only getting started!

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Nicole Lasquety

A visual artist and writer with a passion for media exploration, where big ideas are commonplace. Art, theater, personal essays. lasquetynicole@gmail.com