What I love (and miss) about showing off art

Me (very pregnant) listening to the culture minister explain my art.

It’s a strange truth of creating that you never really know what will resonate with people. Or rather, it’s a strange truth that what does resonate with people tends to be the throwaway pieces, while the things you are proud of just get a lukewarm reaction.

I remember sitting in an airplane, reading some magazine I found. There was an interview in it with Patrick Cox, who was a big deal back then with his Wannabe shoes. In it, Cox told a story about a pair of shoes he designed way back when, and people kept telling him it was the best thing he ever designed. While he really just wanted to take the pair and burn it. He kept failing to make the damned things in the way he saw them in his mind.

I’m seeing the same sort of thing happening here. Writers who are posting stories they find important get little attention and the accompanying piece which was just a bit of back ground goes viral (waves at Jennifer Brown)

My personal example; I got a call from my daughter “Mom, there’s some random dude in glasses posing with your sculpture”. Huh?

She send me a picture of the picture and I had to laugh. For my last big exposition I had a certain amount of space to fill and was coming up a work short. So, I threw something together in a couple of hours. A stem-cell. Basically a bunch of metal wire circles tied together is a oblong shape(the cell), with a smaller kind of globe shape inside (the nucleus) and that whole thing stood on a stem also made from wire circles. I wrapped the wires in plaster bandages for a bit more strength painted the nucleus red and suspended it inside the cell with some fishing line. It was a joke. After the expo I didn’t even take it home, I donated it to (read: dumped it on) the one place on this island where students can ‘study’ art -which is also the one place that gives workshops and has big exposition halls…

The random dude is actually a young Aruban person who managed to get his poems published in a book. Good for him. But of all the places he could have posed for his cover picture, he choose my joke sculpture? Ha.

Actually, this isn’t the first time I heard people say how much they like that stupid thing.

Here’s the thing, when people look at, listen to or read the work you created, they are missing the context of your mind. David Brandt explains how this can be hard on people:

Most people I know don’t go around explaining everything they believe about their work. What you believe would be dismissed as bragging, humble-bragging, selling yourself short, etc. Because once your work is out there, it’s no longer about you. Praise or criticism people have on your work has nothing to do with you. They take your work out of the context of your mind, and see how it does or doesn’t fit in the context of their minds. The way they experience it is usually completely different from how you experience it.

Back when I thought I was a visual artist, at any exposition, instead of standing next to my work to talk about it to people, I preferred to stand a little back and hear people talk about it by themselves. Me explaining my work to you isn’t interesting. Why don’t you explain my work to me? Tell me how your mind works.

When I was making sculptures, I never felt quite like I had that much vision and drive. I would go long periods not having any ideas at all and feeling like I was crafting more than making art. But I loved showing off my work. I suppose I was really a writer undercover, stocking up on characters.

I have been told I understand people very well. I should. I’ve been listening to them explaining themselves for decades.

Writer of fiction, blogs and erotica. Frequency in that order. Popularity in reverse.

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