Monday, May 5, 2008
Today I received an email from a writer who is writing an article about me for a local newspaper. She asked a good question and I thought I would use this post to discuss it. The question posed was : "how do approach a subject ... without fear of offending the viewer? In other words, have you ever altered a piece to be less intimidating because the audience might confuse the meaning or intention?"
I found this to be an interesting question because it gives me an opportunity to explain creation of artwork versus showing of the same artwork. When I design a painting or sculpture it is based on a personal experience either an issue that I want to work out on the canvas or an observation I make from the lives that surround me. There is no thought as to the potential viewer-it is purely a solitary personal process. I will from time to time omit something that I feel will disrupt a loved one's life such as sharing a personal story my daughter has told me or a personal issue that is upsetting to a a friend but as far as my own stories I try not to censor myself. While I'm working on a piece I do realize that someone may either misinterpret my intention, be offended or not get my point at all but since I am not painting with an audience in mind this is not an issue during the creation of the piece.
One example, a piece I did several years ago called "The Nativity" was a portrayal of the actual birthing process of Jesus. I had only seen renderings of the "cleaned up" version of the birth with Mary loving holding her swaddled cleaned up baby and decided to do a more realistic version where Mary is writhing in pain as Jesus leaves her womb. On on side of the painting are the 3 visitors In my mind I wondered if the visitors brought Mary and Joseph appropriate gifts such as good food for Mary to help her nurse, cloth for Jesus' diapers, a sling to hold the baby in when they traveled back home. I know for some viewer this vision seems irreverent but as a pragmatic I tend to simplify things and see the day-to day details.