Art can be completely thankless. Luckily, artists love what they do and gladly produce massive bodies of work without any recognition whatsoever. When an outside source takes interest, it’s absolutely thrilling. Finally, someone else understands even a fraction of the joy you get from putting pencil to paper, from turning the barest of lines into concrete visions, from turning the scenes of your imagination into painted realities.
I have always thrived on challenge. If presented with a concept and told to create around it, my mind always races with solutions to the problem. So it makes sense that some of the work I’m proudest of was completed around guidelines for a class. Last week, some of my school work was exhibited in a show. They took five of my paintings and a collage, three of which were exhibited for sale. The gallery reception was Friday, March 29th, during the time I was away, but I managed to see it upon my return.
As it turns out, they mis-hung some of my pieces. All three of the above paintings (all part of a triptych) are meant to be shown in portrait. I wasn’t sure who to speak to about rotating them, but I figured there must have been a reason for turning them on their sides. The triptych above was created for an assignment where we needed to recall an emotional memory. Obviously, it was inspired by Bob and the events surrounding his passing, though viewers not familiar with my life read some rather interesting interpretations into them.
Also mis-rotated was my collage. Created entirely of cut paper, this was a graphic design assignment to create an advertisement for a cause in the form of a poster in black and white with text. When hung horizontally, the text is more evident, but the lipstick that dissects the rabbit gets a little lost. This was also meant to be hung portrait-style.
These were done as studies in complimentary and analogous colours and seem to be the only pieces hung as they were intended. I took photos of some of the objects on my school grounds, zoomed so far in that it became difficult to tell what they actually were, and translated the colours to comply with the assignment. My classmates actually had no idea what the subjects were until I began to call them “Ugly Tree” and “Fruity Pebbles” respectively, but they’re both labeled “Untitled” for the purpose of the show.
I recently began reading a book called Art & Fear, dealing with the problems of production and identity in modern artists. In the first chapter, they point out that some of the most prolific artists in history worked under a patron who dictated the subject and context of most of their pieces. When artists have specific parameters to work within, it becomes easier to produce a piece we feel comfortable completing and displaying. Without a definite direction, we put too much of ourselves into our work and it becomes difficult to finish a piece because it will never be good enough, much less show them to others who might judge us based on our work. Obviously, the book is geared towards visual artists but artists of any medium can benefit from the ideas presented in the text. I know I have avoided finishing novels, showing people my fiction, even this very website for fear of being judged for it. The text was incredibly motivational but not in a sticky bubblegum cheerleader sense: the authors’ experiences confirm that all artists experience a sense of dread in their own work, regardless of how much they love their craft. Getting around that paralyzing fear of judgement is the only way to continue working and to make yourself a name in any industry.
The show runs through the end of next week, and while I currently don’t have plans to exhibit again it was a fun experience I’d consider again in the future. I’ve been working furiously on new pieces inside and outside of class as well. While it wasn’t a massive or important show, even a little bit of recognition is enough to reassure an uneasy mind and add fuel to the creative fire.