This past weekend, I participated in an artshow. On Sunday, just after I arrived, a couple came in. I could tell that the wife was interested in one of my framed collage pieces. It was hanging way up high. It was difficult to see any detail. After they moved along to another part of the show, I took it down and moved it to better spot. A few minutes later, the couple was standing across the room, again viewing the piece from far away. I went up to speak to them.
The wife was a retired English teacher and she asked me what the piece was "about."
I replied, "Well....do you remember last year when the moon was really close to the earth and they called it the Mega Moon? This piece is meant to capture the feeling I had taking pictures that night."
The husband said, "So, it's more about the moon than the bird?"
I said, "Well, my collage pieces are more about composition and juxtaposition than an underlying story, per se."
Then the wife said, "From this distance, I see a white path, but it is blocked with that obstacle. I think it would be a great conversation starter to see what different people see when they look at it."
I said, "I have never viewed it from this distance; it does read completely differently."
The husband said, "Now, she is finding meanings in it that you didn't even intend."
(I don't think anything is wrong with that. I think it happens in art, literature and music all the time. In fact, I enjoy having a chuckle when people see really "deep" symbolism where the creator likely didn't intend to convey it.)
I don't think either of them liked my answers. The husband didn't even care for the piece visually, but the wife prevailed and they purchased it.
Do you remember the writing prompts in late elementary when you would draw a card from a box and write a story from one of the choices provided there? I felt like that is what they wanted from me and I could have done it....but, I'm not really one of "those" artists. I like to explore subjects that mean something to me, play with techniques and color. I try to make my art compositional sound and to draw the eye around the piece in an interesting way. I wonder if two years of classroom critique in college where I had to verbalize the meaning of every piece of art has made me unwilling to really explore what each piece means to me or if after the fact I should contemplate writing out a narrative of some sort to display with the piece. I think in the absence of getting to meet the artist, the more information they can get about a work of art, the better.
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