Creating My Best Art


I have tried to create from safer more external places. I had not succeeded in ever creating anything I felt particularly connected to when I worked from that outer place. I had certainly felt a sense of pride in the completion of a project and reaching a goal but I had not experienced the satisfaction of holding up something I had created, with intense pride and the knowledge that it truly, unapologetically represented me. Until Coles Manor.

Rebelliously I challenged myself, “okay fine, you want personal, I’ll give you personal! I’ll make something about one of my most private memories.” Thus, Coles Manor, the short documentary was born. I subconsciously auditioned the idea when I wrote and shared a short memoir piece with my most trusted friends. Then, I decided to make a filmed version of the feelings I had around it that needed airing and healing. It shouldn’t surprise me and yet it did, that I found empowering healing from both the process and the product.

What I have come to conclude is that my best art comes from that me-centered place. When I’m the most exposed and the most honest, my best work results. Paradoxically, this self-centered form of creation also leads to the most universal, relatable themes. When I screened Coles Manor for my writer’s group, the range of reactions and the nuggets taken from it were diverse. Each person was able to take something from it and yet I considered it personal to the extreme. 

Yes, there is a part of me that longs to address the larger issues that face mixed race people, people of color, and women. I desire to create work for others who look like me. And, I know through experience that the most effective way to do that is through making art for myself. When I make it for me and my healing, I find the allies and the others who need the healing. I believe I find them more effectively because they do not feel preached or condescended to—instead, and this is really important, they feel seen and related to. Me, having the audacity to hold my space and make my presence known, is my most powerful weapon.

I seek to repeat the process of self-healing through art again and again in other formats. I have begun to teach at-risk youth about acting with my not-so-secret agenda of empowerment through self-knowledge and self-love that they can take into the rest of their lives. I am writing a screenplay with lead characters whom I would have loved to see as a young biracial girl—quirky women of color learning how to define themselves without apology. I write a blog about issues of race and how they’ve affected my life. I act when the opportunities arise and continually challenge myself to take risks and practice courage.

I seek to start my own business with me at the center upholding these values. I want to achieve those ideals through the mediums of film, television, and the written word. In a more concise version, I developed my Purpose, Promises, and Principles.

Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists

  • to find myself—make myself a part of the narrative
  • represent the feeling of falling between and outside of tradition and convention
  • elevate, celebrate and dignify my voice and the voices of the marginalized
  • do God’s work to the best of my ability

Promises: a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen

  • show up everyday
  • write morning pages everyday
  • practice acting weekly
  • share my work with others—accept that it is not precious
  • embrace feedback with an open mind
  • embrace challenge as growth-making
  • practice compassion with myself
  • show faith by surrendering my will to God’s
  • pray and listen to God’s response

Principles: a basic truth

  • I believe in the power of emotional honesty and truth
  • I believe in the strength and beauty of diversity
  • I believe that challenge is necessary and the best path to breakthrough
  • I believe that ultimate truths are found in paradoxes
  • I believe that God is in my life
  • I believe that God is good
Nichole Abshire