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Monday, September 28, 2015

Should the work speak for itself?

Writing artist statements is the bane of any artist's existence. I always wish they would make a novelist get up on stage and paint a picture to tell us what his book was about. Do we really have to come up with the words and craft a piece of literature to explain what can be seen with the eyes? Truthfully, I do not always know what I am painting. The work takes a life on it's own as I move through the process, and lately I collage elements in, and rip them right out, each for a differing effect. I think it takes about 3 years for me to digest, to get some hindsight, and to understand what I was painting.  So I was pretty psyched to hear what 10 of my peers at the Field last Saturday would say about my new triptych, which is actually half of the 6 pieces I envision working together. They looked at the work for 5 minutes, taking notes, and in silence. I could not say a thing.

And then... this is what they saw and felt: "illness and impending death, violent decomposition, rebirth." Some wondered about "heart surgery," and "the role of bees in nature and medicine in our bodies". They felt the symbolism to be strong- "maybe too strong and the three images together were confusing". It "makes the viewer work too hard for meaning". There was some positive feedback- the "disintegrating" lace was "a soft touch, a bit sad, but tender, like a fading memory". The middle section could be about "positive nourishment and care". The running title of choice was "Life Support", and they liked the hearts as flowers and the mother as a very strong presence. Last question was, "Was the bird in the center pulling apart the heart or stitching it back together? "

They did not pick up at all about what my statement might have said about the feminine stitching literally tied to the masculine necktie fragments around the frames! I thought that was an important social sexual comment... and the color embroidery touches! Doesn't it kick up the color? Is black always so full of gloom?  I like working with black, because like Picasso, it outlines and frames and tells a clearer story.   But I am still not sure of the story. Should the pictures speak for themselves or should I try to clarify the impetus for the fragments? Does the work look fragmented? I was hoping for more of a melody...

Doing the third panel I was struck by humor and the thought of how my parents generation is much more wild and addictive than me or my siblings ever were. We sometimes worry about them doing too much self-medicating. Its been a conversation lately and I laugh at it.

The second panel was called "violent"...and I wonder if that is just because of the surgical scissors or the graphic angles of the nest area? and the first panel was called colorless... I hadn't looked at it that way, but now I see... a bit of diagnostic insight I guess.

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