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I have been hesitant to call myself an artist. I don’t carry a sketchbook in my purse. There is no certificate in my workspace stating my expertise.

That is until the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, flipped my conception of artist on its head. A new definition of artist emerged, as one who expresses her creativity, in any fashion.

Mr. Barnes, the collector who purchased and housed the Barnes Foundation art, dabbled in the fine arts, but realized his artistry through the paintings he chose to purchase and the manner that he displayed them on his walls.


At the Barnes, I was forced to throw out all previous conceptions of a museum. There were no sparsely populated white washed walls with perfectly placed paintings, organized by artist, history, style. Instead, mismatched rows of paintings by dozens of artists adorn the busy walls.

Mr. Barnes reveals the synergy between works. The displays and seeming chaos, show the continuity between artists and time periods, as well as the stark differences. He gives us permission to see things creatively, to think like the artists we are, each with a different style and eye.

I am reminded of the artist in me, the one that loves organizing closets, pairing colors, looking at nature, appreciating the foam patterns on top of lattes. I’m also reminded of the countless women staring blankly into their closets every morning, failing to acknowledge the artist within.

The next time you’re getting dressed, embrace the artist within, invite her to come out and play! She’s there, waiting.