Sunday, March 12, 2006

Have you ever wondered

why there are Smiths, Wrights, Millers, Carpenters, Taylors, Painters and Farmers but no Artist?*

This picture has nothing to do with the blogging I am doing today. I found it on the internet as I was searching for the origin of the name Yeager.

Was making art as we know it today not a thing or occupation to be known by in days of yore?
Surely since it was so easy to change ones name in the old days why did no one changed their surname to Artist.*

Today we hang this tag on ourselves to tell the world who and what we are. Why? Because one, we are proud of what we do and two, being an artist is not apparent to the casual viewer.

Yes, yes I know there are times when we leave the house with a thimble afixed to our middle finger and are in the process of signing a check when we discover it. Or we look like we had a fight with a wayward lint trap. And of course we have threads attached almost always that we think of as normal. But none of this says artist to the outside world. The outside world is probably thinking unkemp, forgetful and blind. And surely none of us wants to be named any of those.

Should we, who make "art", forever be known with a hypenated name lest the world think we are something other than who and what we are? Juanita Yeager-Artist? Now that says something but does not fully define who and what I am.

And can it or should it be that simple?

Juanita Gibson-Yeager was an acceptable name I gave myself when the fem movement began. From the beginning of my marriage to one Philip Douglas Yeager, God bless his soul, I called myself Juanita Gibson Yeager no hyphen because until I had exceeded 18 years of marriage I had been a Gibson longer than a Yeager and being known as Juanita Gibson Yeager just felt right. It felt like ME. Although married with children and career as a nurse I still felt more like my parents daughter at times. Now I feel more like an artist.

Could I so boldly wipe away a name I have had for nearly 45 years. Not without a lot of soul searching. How easy was it for immigrants to give up their names for Americanized versions. What is a name? Since I think of myself as a Yeager 90% of the time I thought I should find out who or what a Yeager is. And a Gibson.

Yeager, Americanized from the German Jager, Jaeger, meaning one who hunts.
On the other hand. Gib is a Newfounderland term for fish guts. I suppose my father's father's father gutted fish for a living and had a son .

Thank God at age 62 I don't hunt or gut fish.
Thank God more that I do do art.

This is how I got on to this train of thinking. My great-grand father was a Blacksmith. However, he was born a Williamson. But at some point in his life prior to him marrying my great-grandmother, Nishia Head, he became a Smith.
Not Black, or Blacksmith, just simply Smith. Maybe being named Smith was enough to define who and what he was. He was known by the name Smith long enough for it to be legal and his children and grands to great-great still carry the name Smith.

What if?
I were Juanita the Quiltsmith like my great-grandfather James was the Blacksmith. Most likely Quiltsmith would become Smith. Oh NO!
or Juanita the Quiltwright, simple Wright. NO WAY! How annomous would that be.

Having decided that I can not give up my connection to my born into family or my married into family. My name would be have to become
Juanita Gibson Yeager Artist, Hum!

In the final analysis, all this blogging would have been unnecessary if only my husband's ancestors had been French instead of German and originated in the province of Artois.

People from Artois were named Artis (ar-tees) and the Americanized form is Artist.


Mrs. Mel said...

O I loved this post!!! I love the idea of Quiltwright, but oooh how hard to say without missing the hard R sound...quiltwhite! heehee.
Artois is so lovely, as is Artista, the Spanish version. But then Bernina grabbed that earlier.

kristin La Flamme said...

I wonder about thge origins of names a lot. Fascinating. In Germany, once you've passed your apprenticeship you become a Meister. How about Juanita Quiltmeister? The mother of a friend of mine changed her name from Schmuckler (jeweler in german, but derogatory in American english) to Tsoreen (not sure if I spelled it right, but apparently it means jeweler in hebrew).