Sunday, February 14, 2010

Art is not intimidating.

It took a long time before I would tell someone I was an artist. When that question came up, "so what do you do?" - as it usually does when getting to know a new person - something would catch in my throat and I just couldn't say "I'm an artist." But what was I if not that? Well, nothing, and for a very long time. That is - nothing that held any interest to anyone. After all, I was no longer a marketing exec in corporate America. I was "only" a stay-at-home-mom, and that, after all, generates very little discussion unless the other person is also a stay-at-home-mom. The usual response from anyone else was a smile combined with a condescending look and maybe a comment like, "oh, what a tough job - or - how wonderful that you can be at home with your kids," and then a quick change of subject or a quick move to extricate from the conversation entirely.

So I was used to that. And when I went back to school when my youngest was old enough for a full morning at pre-school, I was not at all sure I could even do this "art thing." It took seven years of part-time study (2, sometimes 3 classes a semester) before I earned my BFA in painting. And by my last year in school, I began to think of myself in a new way - as an artist. I still am a stay-at-home-mom, but now I answer "I'm an artist" when someone asks what I do. That answer usually generates quite a bit more conversation as people like to find out what kind of art I do. And invariably, if the person I'm talking to is not an artist or working in a related field, often they quickly confess a bewilderment when it comes to looking at contemporary art. I hate that people are intimidated by art, and I don't think the problem is in the viewers. I think the problem is in the art world.

So, as this is my very first post, I will simply say that art should not require a post-graduate degree to be appreciated. Art, like Torah, can be understood and appreciated on many levels. The more learned one is, the more levels one can delve into, but ultimately there should be a way to appreciate something without background, and just with one's senses. Art, at its most basic, should be impactful without a museum label, gallery guide or artist statement. Just by looking, art should communicate. I like to tell people who are intimidated by art that they should trust their instinctive reaction to something, but also take the time to really see it, and think about what they're seeing. They'll understand more about the work than they probably give themselves credit for.

1 comment:

  1. Beth,

    This is a wonderful blog!!!! I'm so excited that you're doing this. I am one of your biggest fans and I am looking forward to reading more of your blog.