My partner Jo has been creating and posting one piece of art every day for sixty-nine days and counting. That’s a bit insane. But it’s wonderful and she has taught me much about art.
I’ve long held what I now see as the mistaken belief that an artist should clearly articulate his or her message. The idea that art is just up to everyone’s own interpretation has always driven me nuts. I figured the artist intended something. I might have my own ideas, but I could always just be wrong about what a piece means. If it isn’t clear what it means, then maybe the artist did a poor job.
Jo has taught me otherwise. She started some time ago by telling me to try to physically feel a piece of art when I look at it; don’t just try to analyze it intellectually. Okay. But her daily work has done so much more for me.
Every day, she puts out something new and we talk about it. She likes to hear how I receive them. And she usually laughs when she hears my interpretation. I’m almost always wrong about what she intended. And I almost always read it as some twisted, but humorous gag, which sometimes/often they are. But now I realize that my unexpected interpretations weren’t the result of Jo’s poor execution, but, instead, the result of the fact that art consists of symbols, not signs. Art is more like myth than it is like traffic signs.
Jo often finds that her pieces have layers to them she never intended or foresaw. Like myths, their meaning cannot be fully articulated with words. Art and myth communicates truths or meaning that transcend language and intellect.
On top of all of this, I’ve also learned that an artist cannot control the art or the message. He or she must let it go and let be what it is. He or she must let others interact with the piece as they will. The meaning of art isn’t contained in the art; it is contained in the interaction between the artist, the art, and the viewer. But isn’t that true of most things? Jo has taught me to revel in ambiguity.
Okay, so now my grasp of art has caught up with that of five-year-old kids. It’s a start. Thanks Jo.
Please visit Daily Record 365 and enjoy Jo’s work.