My sister, Sharon, and I had an interesting conversation the other day that made me think about the whole artsy endeavor so many of us do. Sharon has become quite the craftswoman in her M1 bunker (she will have to explain that) and has started showing her work to the public recently.
I don’t really know what happened to the two of us, but we just don’t fit the mold that we were supposed to fit into. She has joined a group of fairly traditional artists. Her art and humor is not traditional and she commented that she always gets strange looks when she takes her work in to display. This time was even worse…they were trying to hang her piece UPSIDE DOWN. Personally, I don’t know what the problem was. It was perfectly clear to me. See what you think.
To get to my point, Sharon was explaining how uncomfortable it is to put your work out there and I told her that I had always felt like it was as if you just opened up your diary for all the world to see. I believe her response was, “EXACTLY!”
Now, if you have never had the opportunity to creatively expose yourself then this might not make any sense. How would a painting of a vase of flowers or the shell in my drawing make you feel so vulnerable? Heck, just writing this blog has the same effect on me as hanging my art in a gallery.
My best answer to that is that something (wait for it, it gets mystical)…speaks to your soul and needs to be interpreted. Dang, that’s deep.
The flowers may bring back a memory. A barn in the snow may mirror the loneliness you are dealing with right now. A blob of clay or piece of metal can turn into something layered with the emotions of the artist.
But, you, the observer, don’t see all that do you? Ah, but we THINK YOU CAN! We think every little insecurity that went into that piece is shining like a neon light. Maybe the example of having to stand in one of those airport security machines that reveals just a little too much is a better analogy. You are stuck there in an awkward position and just know that the security people are making fun of the bumps and bulges that clothes are made to hide.
Next time you walk around a gallery and see things you don’t understand please be gentle with your words. We are very likely lurking right behind you. It wouldn’t take much for us to grab our art off the wall and run home with it just like we would with a child who’s feelings got hurt by a bully. Come to think of it, that piece of art is our child and we are very, very protective of it.