Wednesday, March 26, 2014


What is your name? 

 Holly Combs

Where do you live?

Indianapolis, Indiana

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I always believed I was born an artist. My dad would say, “Holly, you're a piece of work!”. 

Inspiration: Pink - Jack Black - Eminem - 
I always wanted to have my own band.  I sing. 
I played violin for 10+ years.

They don't know it yet - But I will be speaking at TedX next year.  just wanted to give heads up.

When did you become a mother?

I became a mother on July 21st, 2003 (on my dad's birthday)

What are your challenges as a mother

Feeling divided is my biggest challenge. I deal with guilt on a daily basis, wanting to give my kids all of me, while balancing my commitment to show them that being an artist is a way of life and a way to make a living. Whether they become artists or not, I need them to know it's more than possible to live their calling with their whole heart. 
Having such a strained relationship with my mother created fear of ever being a mom. She didn't balance it well. So not seeing it live made me question if it was possible.My house is always in some state of chaos and mayhem. I don't mean that in the way others say it. My house needs caution tape.Laundry.Not caring for my own health.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother artist?

I believe life is an artform. I believe being a mom is an artform. And I believe God gave me gifts that I must use for His glory. Mastering a skill is an intense motivation for me. Mastery turns me on.

Do you have a studio? 
Where is it?

My studio is in my mind. It's the only place that's really mine.

When do you spend time making art?

Any quiet moment that is available. Noise, visually and audibly - is my kryptonite. Every empty wall inspires a work of art. Every hurting person with need inspires my creativity for expressing words of hope.

What is your favorite medium?

I practice the art of inspiration and people are my canvas.

 How many children do you have?

Two by birth, and thousands by calling.

 Have you ever considered giving up being an artist in order to be a mother?

The moment my daughter was born, I made my family my art. I don't see it as giving up. I've made my marriage and being a mom an art form. I just see it as the ability to make connections at the right time for the overall good of our family's wellbeing.

What is your advice for a new artist mom?

Breathe. Slowly.
You don't and never will have all the answers.
Immerse yourself in a group of women that you can be totally honest with.
Drink water.
Have grace for yourself.
Don't be afraid to question everything you thought you knew.
Don't have ideals for ideals' sake.
Talk to Jesus every day. He's the giver of Peace that surpasses all understanding.
Ask for help.

 Do you have support from family and friends while making art?

My husband is the best. He respects me as an artist after many years of competing unbeknownst to me, we now work together and respect each other. My BF, Laura, is everything I'm not. It's hard to talk about her because I'm amazed by her gifts and her willingness to serve me with them. I could go on and on, but then I would start crying and I wouldn't finish the rest of the questions. My in-laws have grown to a place of unconditional love for me. There is nothing they wouldn't do to support me as a mom, a wife, and an artist.

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

Yes. I feel like over the past 13 years I have received an immeasurable amount of support from all the art nonprofits in our city, from the art community, and from individuals.

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

My stance on this is that you will be taken as seriously as you are. I've not had a person that's met me that has not taken me seriously. I think there are a lot of females who carry unreasonable ideals that don't allow them the freedom available to fully discover their potential. For example, they think people won't take them seriously, so people don't take them seriously. I'm a baller, and I roll with a lot of beautiful, strong, bold artist mom ballers.

What do you say when someone asks you “what does your husband do for a living?”?

I tell them, “My husband is an artist. He blows minds with his amazing artistic skills.” 

What advice can you give to other artist moms about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

I would say, “You are called to a bigger purpose. You're the only person who can say what you need to say how you're going to say it. You have a responsibility to serve the greater good of this world with your gift using your voice.”

What is your story?

-hearts flowers glitter unicorns - and tears.

My early life was defined mostly by things completely out of my control. But that’s childhood, right? I was born tiny—premature. A twin. I stayed tiny well into adulthood. My brother grew into a giant—he towers over me. I think I was made for a life of contradictions. There was a lot of fear and a lot of lies mixed in with a lot of 
laughter and a lot of grace. Some of it helped me grow. Some of it suffocated me.When I look back, I realize almost everything about who I am now, the kind of person I am, the kind of artist I am, is a product of learning how to survive with a mind that did not fit—not in that tiny body, not in my home with the walls that seemed to close in on me ever tighter and tighter, not in any classroom, where words and numbers were the only acceptable communication form. I was a foreigner in every land—a visitor from the land of Dyslexia. English is my second language. Pictures were my first. So many years were filled with things that threatened to suffocate my spirit. So many were just filled with 
things. Valueless material goods (not to be confused with priceless, please). Rules written in ignorance. 

Emotions expected to be stuffed down. I never had the chance to fly. There wasn’t enough room. That’s why I love negative space. Every empty wall inspires a work of art. Every hurting person with a need inspires my creativity for expressing words of hope. When I met and married my husband, I thought that would be freedom. He was this amazing, challenging man—thirteen years later, he still is. But I married him under false pretenses. I thought he was a moody, quirky artist. A rebel, complete with leather jacket and unpredictable actions. And all of that was kind of true, but all of 
it was kind of a sickness. That’s the trick of mental illness, or any long-term illness, I expect. It’s a part of you. Sometimes it makes you more you than ever—more of the worst of you. Sometimes it means more of the best. I carried my husband on my back for years thinking I was alone in the struggle. Wondering why he couldn’t see how the weight of him was slowly killing me. But it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t know. No one knew. Undiagnosed. Saddest word ever. So in those years there were a lot of highs and lows. The lows were knock-you-down-in-a-ditch-at-the-bottom-of-a-cliff low. The funny thing was that the highs were just as terrifying. I was always sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to jump . . . or be pushed. But somewhere in the exhilarating, frightening mess, we made art together—and two beautiful children. And I started to grow. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t do it well. Sometimes I took root in the wrong places. There were side trips down the road of adultery for both of us. It wasn’t just not pretty—it was scarring. I can show you them, if you ask. But we grew. He grew into an understanding of who he was and how to get control of the illness that too many times brought him to death’s door, with him willingly opening it to peek inside. And I realized that being unique 

didn’t mean I had to do it all on my own. We leaned. On God. On family. On friends. On each other. I thank God every day that my kids were too young to remember much about those years. But I also thank God every day that I do remember. And that maybe I can give them some of the wisdom and beauty that came out of the struggle. It’s remembering that gives me the strength and confidence to teach others now. Because I have scars, I can see the hurt in others more easily. And I don’t just let it go. Not anymore. Secrets are so overrated. Our stories are meant to be told. 
My story also includes two of the most amazing, marvelous children you could ever meet. It’s true. They have taught me how to truly love in ways I never thought possible. Like seriously—not possible. Who ever thought cleaning up poop in the bathtub or being faced with my phone dropped in a juice cup would be the way I’d learn how to love? But it happens. Every stinking day (well, not the poop anymore). My daughter, Seaira, is 10 and already is teaching others. She helps her dad with his art classes and helps students at school who are struggling. She loves her cat and is learning to sew, play guitar, and is taking a stab at acting. A lot of things come easy to her, but she tries not to use the B word (bored). Watch out, world. Seaira Skye is going to be whatever she chooses. And she’ll have all the support I can give her. Alden is a lover. He’s had a kind and compassionate heart since he was born and loves the unloved wherever he meets them. He is everything an 8-year-old boy should be—crazy, noisy, breaker of all that is not yet broken. He hates structure, yet he’ll sit for hours and build some of the most smart and thoughtful structures I’ve ever seen from a kid. He is his mama’s boy—at the age of 6 he started a sticker campaign to tell people “I love you.” I expect he’s going to have to fight to stay his soft-hearted self. He may have a hard go of it. Kindness shouldn’t be seen as a weakness, but it so often is. What’s wrong with us, world?So if you come to my house (warn me, first, please, so I can at least clear a path), you won’t see my paintings on the walls or sculptures on my shelves. That’s not the art I do, though I admire, even envy, it in other talented creatures. My art is people. I don’t feel like I make art so much as I let it out. Sometimes it takes all the energy I have to teach a class—to put on the show. I give my everything so I can get something out of my students. And it’s totally worth it. 

To Learn more about the exciting work of Holly Combs- please visit:

The Department of Public Words

What If Money Was No Object - Alan Watts

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