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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Every Work of Art creates a Preconception

Every Work of art creates a preconception of the artist. What do I mean by that? I mean that no matter how good or how bad the work of art is, the viewer is looking at it through a subjective lens. Lets take a beach scene for example. 

On the wall of a museum is a beautiful tranquil beach scene with the sky full of the last shades of a setting sun. Pretty huh? Now lets look at it through the eyes of several viewers.

Viewer #1 is an elderly man, who when he see's the painting is taken back in time to childhood days with friends. A campfire may be being lit just out of the frame of the painting for a cool autumn night ahead. Elderly mans preconceptions of life have just created an instant affinity with the painting. 

Viewer #2 is a middle aged woman. When she see's the painting she freezes, a frown creasing the corners of her lips. With a frightful turn she moves quickly away from the painting. She sees the loss of a child who drowned on such a beach many years before. It still tears at her heart. The woman has made an instant judgement of the painting based on her preconceptions of a hard life.

In both cases there is absolutely nothing that the artist can do to change their preconceptions. 

So why am I even bothering to discuss this? Well first off I think its important as artists to realize that even the best of work we may create can and will be met with the preconceptions of the viewer. If we judge our own self worth on whether someone likes or dislikes our work, we will be hopelessly lost in the maelstrom of personal private opinions that we cannot control. 

Second (as I quite often preach), we must train ourselves to see our work from both our own artists perceptions and the eyes of the viewer. If we understand that some works may offend even if we do not mean them to do so, it gives us empathy for our audience. The viewer is no longer an anonymous face in a crowd. We have given their anonymity a voice and that can only strengthen our own work. 

Third it gives us an understanding of the process that takes place when we DO wish to offend. Not all art is pretty. Some art is created to bring a talking point to a problem. For those of us who are not only artists but art activists, it can give us insight into the messages we do put in our work. If we mean to shock someone by our work, it helps to have some understanding of the psychology behind art that shocks. 

My personal view is to create art that's beautiful but has a specific underlying message to it. Other artists create to hate as they say. While others sadly hate and create. 

Whats the difference you say? You can create with joy and enlightenment and still create a message that others will hate if they do not take time to understand it. But its a whole different universe when you hate and you create that hate into your art. This I do not think is healthy or the best form of art. 

Art should always rise above the hate even if it address a hateful situation. 

The last thing that is important I think is that a persons preconceptions can and do also prejudice them against the artist. It does not matter if the person has ever met you, or even knows one iota about you. They will judge you based on their own views of their universe. 

For example, if you create a piece of art related to the environment you can be sure to be hated by a large number of climate deniers. If you create a piece with angels in it there will be atheists who will instantly judge you. If you create a piece against religion you will be instantly judged as a hateful person who has no soul. In each case it really doesn't matter what your personal views are. The haters gonna hate anyway.

So where do we go with this?

We create what our heart leads us to create. We put aside the often petty preconceptions of our fellow humans and we allow our art to speak the messages we feel they must. Whether its a tranquil beach scene at dusk or a scene of a black man hanging from a tree to teach about racism. We gird our heart against the pain of others opinions and we do what we are set upon this planet to do. Create art.

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