Yesterday, I made ART.
For many of you that may seem like no big deal.
To me, it is quite an accomplishment. I love the idea of canvases, and paint, and making something unique and personal. But every time I buy a canvas, I bring it home and it just sits.
It sits and stares at me and dares me to touch it and ruin its perfect blank slate status. So I move it to the closet so it can’t stare quite so hard, and I go on wishing I could create something.
Honestly, its not that I couldn’t make “something”. Its that I’m afraid the “something” I make will be an embarrassment. I tell myself I’m sure to ruin the canvas, to make some half baked, crappy piece of work only a mother could love, and have to bury it in the bottom of my trash so no one will see how pathetic I am. When those are the sort of inspired thoughts that flash through my mind at the thought of creating a painting, its no wonder I never get very far.
Essentially, the thing that holds me back is not necessarily the process of creating – its fear over people’s (even my own) perception of what will be created. Will it be ugly? Juvenile looking? Pathetic? At this particular point in time there is no question about it being a masterpiece – it won’t be. But should I refuse to create simply because I know “my” creation won’t stand a chance at being the best?
And there is the question of subjectivity. As in, art is so darn subjective. Who is to even say what’s good / bad / ugly / terrible?
Once, in an Art History class, the professor placed a whole bunch of items out on a table and asked us to decide which ones were art. Then she picked random people and asked them about a specific object. When she got to me, she happened to ask me about a Pepto Bismol pink lump of clay that I felt could pass for a giant wad of chewed up spitting gum. I ruled it wasn’t art, and when pressed, articulated that something like that could conceivably have been formed by falling off a ceiling and drying in a lump – that makes it “not art” in my book.
Oh what’s that, professor? Your mode of art happens to be in clay sculpture, and this is actually a piece you made?
(Can we just stop now and make a rule that you can’t put your own work out like and make us answer questions about it? That was not fair. And frankly, I think it made you prejudiced against me that whole semester.)
The point being, however, that everyone has a different opinion about good art, and bad art, and everything in between. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to expression, and voice, and what is being conveyed by the artist through their piece.
In reality, it could be that that is the very thing that frightens me about art. It forces me to stop, and think about who I am, and what message I’m attempting to communicate, and how to take the words and thoughts and emotions that exist abstractly inside of me and somehow turn them into something concrete, touchable, viewable.
And when the unseen becomes seen, a little, hidden, secret part of who we are may get revealed in the process.