Art and communication

Chesapeake Bay, 2013

I didn’t have a chance to go to a museum or gallery this week, but I had a really nice conversation with a five year old about art.  He lives next door and just started kindergarten this year.  He’s really into maps! It’s great, because my art is made of maps.

I showed him the painting that is pictured above and I couldn’t believe how inquisitive he was about it.  He asked me all sorts of questions about how I made it and why I did this or that.  It was the first time in a long time that I really talked about my art work– with anyone.  It was such a fun experience, but at the same time I was thinking– Wow! How amazing is this little boy?  How can he be giving me such good insight about my own work?

It just goes to show you that anyone can see something in your artwork that you may not have even noticed before.  That is why it’s good to think about why and how you make your own artwork.  I know the reasons why I think I make my art, but this little guy actually gave me a few more reasons.

There is a belief, or philosophy in art that it takes more than the art itself to exist.  Meaning, there’s the artist who makes the art, the art itself, and the viewer.  People who study this philosophy believe that if there is no one to view the art, then they question it’s existence.  I don’t really subscribe to that belief, because I think that if you make an object and called it art, then it’s art and it exists.  However, it’s interesting to think about how others could view my art.  I have some control over how they view it, but I have no control over how they think about it.  It’s a good lesson in letting go and acceptance.  If you have different ideas about your artwork than someone else you have to let the art reach them where they’re at.  A lot of artists stay stuck to one meaning, but the truth is the artwork can be interpreted as many ways as the people who see it! Or, none at all!

So the next time you view art, or meet an artist who is showing your their work ask questions.  Ask the tough questions!  Make them think and tell you why they make their art.  All the components of the art come together (the artists, the work, the viewer) that brings understanding about each other, the processes we use to create the work, and what we think.  It also allows us to be open to different interpretations,  explore further understanding of the art work, and to share our personal experiences alongside the artwork.  Talking about art builds community and tolerance of different ideas.  It eliminates right and wrong and focuses on what just is.

When I was talking with that little boy, the only thing that existed at that time was me, the painting and the boy.  We shared a connection through an artwork that was made out of objects we both like and understand.  I also showed him something new, what could be done with maps, and how I interpret maps. Maybe he will get some new ideas or make something new in his own way and share it with me!  Either way, art can be a gateway to communication, understanding, and building relationships.

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