Questioning Our Assumptions and What We Think We Know

Thinking about this meta-analysis of studies involving children asked to “draw a scientist.” More kids drew women as scientists over time, and girls drew them more often than boys, but it’s still encouraging for both diversity and perception of occupational roles.

Another thing I thought about, though, was the way it encourages us to question our assumptions about people and jobs. It’s a good thing to do that, and I wonder if art isn’t good training. We try to encourage each other to see with new eyes and to throw out what we think we know in favor of what’s there—and of what’s possible.

Sometimes It All Goes Horribly Wrong and There’s Sweet Diddly You Can Do About It

The above title references an SCTV sketch featuring John Candy as “Mr. Mambo” that stuck in my head when I saw it more than 30 years ago—which fact seems impossible to me now—and I still chuckle at his delivery.

But the sentiment of the rest of his monologue (followed by an extended version of “Brazil”) is valuable. Sometimes you have to distract yourself in order to find your own happy moments. If that’s mambo, well, good. If it’s your work, even better. Let your art take over.

The Full Meaning of Your Work May Never Be Known to You

It seems to me there’s no shortage of advice to imbue your work with meaning, and to understand what your work is about. Some say because if you don’t know what it’s about, joe will other people know?

The better advice, I think, comes from those who say you don’t have to know what your work means, and I say, further, you may never know fully what it means.

That’s mostly because we’re only half the equation of art. The audience or public in general are the other half, and everyone brings their own experience and insight to what you make. Art is open to interpretation by its nature. Even if you purposefully craft a particular meaning, there will be different ways to understand it.

It’s fine, even good, to have a subtext. As long as we aren’t to attached to it or dogmatic about it when we send it into the world. Part of the wonder of art is in that relationship with the ones who take in the things we make.

A Little Skepticism on the Worth of Art Fairs

This one, which is going to feature the work of newly-graduated MFA students, is something I’d like to see. But then, in the details, are things like the prestige of venue, and the million dollar cost.

I’m not sure it’s the direction I want to see. The art world is already so focused on sales, and this is more of the same system that pushes artists to structure work to market preferences.

I get the opportunity to the students, and congratulations to them for getting in on this. But I’d like to see a bigger push to strive for meaning and broad openness in both art and its exhibitions.

Music and Your Concentrating Mind Probably Can’t Be Buddies

I talked about it on the most recent podcast, but a new study published by Lancaster University seems to show a significant detrimental effect on creativity while listening to music (here’s the link).

This is hard to take, especially since I use music to feel as if I’m focusing on the task, whether painting or writing. I’ll have to make an effort to keep the silence going—provided I don’t need to drown out something more distracting around me.

But in a Pollyannic sense, this is good if it gets me treating music more significantly as a medium, rather than something I use as backdrop for other things. It’s not that music can’t enhance an experience, but creation seems to be a different territory, and better left to explore without soundtrack.

When the Road Seems Ever Long(er), Remember How Far You’ve Come

It’s not often the artist’s journey™ feels like a short walk to success town. Usually it’s a Frodo-level exhausting slog, that nonetheless comes with many rewarding stops.

But you can’t see a long journey ahead unless you’ve been working on things for a while. And when you feel overwhelmed with how far there is to go, there’s a good bit of stuff you’ve already done. In reality, there isn’t a place to end, there’s always somewhere new to travel to, further along your particular road. In that sense, you’re always at the same place looking forward, but looking at how far you’ve come will build for as long as you make art.

Persistence and Art (and You, of Course)

The more you resist the urge to stop, the easier it is to keep finding your path. And maybe that path wanders a lot, but you will feel at ease on it, more often than not.

Lots of people talk about making art. Most don’t. Most who start making it at some point quit, or just dip into it now and then. If you aren’t one of them, you’re making things to put into the world, beautiful, affecting, amazing things. New things, that haven’t been experienced before. That’s the important part. It isn’t how brilliant everyone else thinks they are. That’s nice if it happens, but if it doesn’t, you’ll still feel a connection to your being in a powerful way.

Real World Art Interventions by Magda Sayeg

I’m always fascinated by artists who interact with the physical world in various ways. Especially when they turn the familiar upside down. Magda Sayeg does this sort of thing a lot, creating what I’d call interventions more than merely installations.

Using yarn as a medium has some deep connective salience. It’s familiar, but outside the context of a home or apparel, it brings a sometimes unnerving resonance to both natural and human made objects. Simultaneously, it adds touches of humor and cozy familiarity, drawing us in with bright color and warmth.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.