Employee Artist - Kristie Cantrell

Published on November 01, 2016

I Am Not An Artist

By Kristie Cantrell

Hi! I am Kristie, your building maintenance secretary in the Department of Public Works and Facilities. I definitely do not consider myself an "artist," but I do enjoy crafting, sewing, and expressing the "Crafty Kristie" side of me. I'd briefly like to share with you my experiences with Placer Creates, the employee art show.

I have to admit, I never even went to view the art show displays the first year I worked for Placer County. To me, the phrase "art show" implied an exclusive and fancy art gallery in New York City, where everyone is drinking champagne and dressed up in tuxedos and designer dresses; a place where I would not necessarily feel very comfortable.

However, the following year I discovered that some of my co-workers had submitted entries in the show so I decided to see what it was all about. I was pleasantly surprised to see what I considered non-traditional pieces of artwork: a wedding dress, a refurbished dirt bike, needlework items, hand-made jewelry, quilts and a mosaic, to name a few. There were also many paintings and photography pieces done by people whom I actually knew! It was awesome! I was gratefully given a new perspective of my colleagues and of the art show. Like me, many employees also have a crafty, creative side of themselves that I can easily relate to (without champagne, tuxedos and designer dresses).

Kristie Cantrell Holding a Painting

Last year when the art show rolled around, I gathered enough courage to show a committee member in my department a photo of something I had made. Remember, because I am not an artist I wasn't sure if it would be acceptable for the show. But to my surprise I thankfully received positive feedback and invitations to not only submit my "artwork" to the show, but also to join the planning committee (empowerment!).

I have a passion for helping others with behind-the-scenes type work so of course I was willing to volunteer with the committee. I truly enjoy contributing my ideas and opinions at the meetings and being a liaison between my department and the committee (collaboration!). By engaging with the committee I have been sharpening my proofreading and editing skills, polishing my team work and leadership capabilities and have been gently welcomed outside of my comfort zone when I assisted with a presentation at one of the board of supervisors' public meetings (professional growth!).

However, the greatest personal benefit I have received through my art show journey has been meeting new friends. I have come to learn that we also share additional interests and we now have relationships outside of the office (networking!). Who knew?!

Thank you for reading my story of how I turned out to be an "artist" in Placer Creates, the employee art show. The more I hear myself being referred to as an artist, the more comfortable I feel owning that description.

My hope is that many more employees who say, "I am not an artist," will display something they have created, or volunteer to assist the committee with a one-time task.