It’s not everyday I fall in love with a piece of art. But, I did yesterday.
Scrolling through some social media pages, I saw an illustration that tugged at my heart. It was deep with meaning and very well done. I couldn’t stop envisioning it on my wall.
Poof! With a witless click, the image was gone. I scrolled, but I couldn’t find it again. The hunt was on. I spent at least an hour launching a full-force search to locate the piece so I could seize it for my collection. I couldn’t locate the artist or remember their full name. Finally, I found someone with a similar name and sent a note. No, it wasn’t this person, but they knew who it was. SCORE! I was told, “Wait until you hear the story behind this piece. You will love it even more!”
With bated breath, I awaited a response. Nothing. I went to my own studio to continue working. When I returned, there was a long, detailed story of the artwork. It explained the language the artist chose, the characters in the piece, what they were doing, what they were thinking, what their intentions were, and even more.
I reconsidered – perhaps, after this first date, it was just infatuation. It wasn’t my piece anymore.
I’d lost interest. It was as if, on the first date, mi amour showed up fully naked – body and soul. I’d been told too much.
Does this ever happen to you? What was yours clearly, once again, became the artists’? I’m a bit unfamiliar with this territory. I paint abstractly. I offer very little information and want the experience to be unique to everyone who comes in contact with my paintings – including myself. There’s a thread we share, but I hope (nearly) everyone can take away something meaningful to them. Viewing this other artist’s work was different, because, with so much detail, there was nothing unique for me to take away. It made me wonder….
How much should an artist tell? Of course, every work has a story. How much of the story should we tell? Some time ago the belief was that a work should speak for itself. What do you think? How much do you need to hear…need to tell? Are you saying too much, too little?
I work in series, so every series begins with a concept. I explain the concept, but let the viewer take it from there. Am I leaving tidbits of meaning on the table? I don’t want to starve the viewer, yet I don’t want to impinge on their psyche, either.
I suspect the “need to know” is highly personal and varies from person to person. I had a woman ask about my work last Saturday evening and, apparently, I didn’t offer enough explanation, because she asked more questions. I believe, eventually, I satisfied her curiosity. But, how do we know? What is the value of mystery?
Let’s have a conversation. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Michelle Andres is a writer and artist who cultivates her own Well Lived Life by drinking in the beauty around her, following her passion, respecting others and doing her best to own her own dookie.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
“Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog (over there – in the left sidebar)