Last night, I signed 13 works of photographic art for a show next Saturday, August 6th, at the Lawrence Public Library to celebrate Breastfeeding Week. My hand shook as I practiced what my artistic signature would be. This mattered. I could destroy what I’d invested weeks making in one clumsy stroke.
My name. Such a struggle.
In the past 3 years, my last name has changed 4 times. What was once considered a permanent part of my identity became fluid through the tragedy of broken marriages.
I had to laugh when someone once joked,
“Hello Janene Snyder-Rothwell-Sipple-Rothwell!”
The local post office workers in our small town just shrug their shoulders and act like they’ve seen it all. I really need to bake them some cookies.
So I dreaded putting my name anywhere because I felt its lack of permanence. Several times I considered following Cher’s footsteps and just being Janene.
My photography mentor told me earlier this year that I needed to start signing all of my printed photographs that were bigger than 11x14. He said that they were my artistic creations and needed to be recognized as such.
I wish I had listened to him sooner.
Last night, I permanently owned 13 works of art that I’d birthed in my heart, planned in my mind, sweated to create and then lost sleep over. My name written 13 times with a finalizing flourish and it felt amazing.
There’s a place in the Bible where it says that God will give us a new name etched on a white stone. I can’t wait to see it. Without a doubt, it’ll be absolutely perfect.