whats it all about alfie?

Have you ever watched any of those Art City DVD's? They show them occasionally on PBS. You can also get them through the library and of course, Netflix.

Tod forgot he had this DVD laying around so last night we had a rare night together (work is THAT dead) and watched it. Here is the description of this one: Director Chris Maybach's dynamic documentary offers insight into the intriguing lives of the players in New York City's art scene, stepping into galleries, collectors' homes and studios. Through interviews with a cross-section of critics, artists and collectors -- including Gary simmons and Elizabeth Murray -- Maybach sheds light on the artists' travails and motivations. Creative issues and the import of success are among the topics discussed.

I have a love hate relationship with watching anything to do about artists. Especially 'made' ones. I cringe and roll my eyes whenever I hear artists speak with convoluted self involved importance. Perhaps they really believe all the gibberish they speak. I try to imagine if I were ever in a position to have to talk about my work what would I sound like? I remember last year when the gallery had a three person show (me being one of them) whereby an art critic was to speak about our works. At one point (and I believe somewhere in my blog archives I have written about this) during a Q & A with the audience, someone asked about my work and what it meant as far as the relationship to recycling etc. She was looking for a deeper meaning. He answered her in what I thought was an untrue statement on my behalf. (how could he possibly know my motives when he never once interviewed me?). I chimed in and felt every eye on me. What was a pompous discussion about all this hybrid art was quickly turned into a simple explanation from me. 'it is fun'. Oops! How disappointing. God forbid an artist create something because it is fun. Can that be serious art?

I was told later that you could feel relief from many people. That they could 'get' that as opposed to all the layers of fluff superimposed over the earlier discussion. Who am I to say that what these artists say about their work isn't true? I think ultimately, art is just an expression that can never be interpreted by everyone in the same way, and if it can that doesn't make it any more worthy does it? Some people have more to express, or perhaps feel they need to make it all mean something and forge connection. So far, to date, I can honestly say that every piece I have made has been made purely out of a desire to create. None of it really means anything. I don't have a grand plan. There have been only a few pieces I actually planned to the T but there wasn't a grand statement about why I was making it. I like to let the piece steer me into the direction that seems to work best. It is all about feeling. That feels good. That doesn't. That color feels good, that doesn't. This object feels good here that one doesn't. It is about building. Having a relationship with myself and the objects without any ulterior motive. It is akin to laughter. How laughing expresses something that words cannot. That is what art is like, it expresses something that otherwise cannot be expressed.

It is entirely possible that 'great art' has deep meaning. But to whom? The artist or the people who view it? Does that influence the perceived importance I wonder? Do I have to make it mean something to get noticed? I viscerally constrict when I think about it all. Maybe that is the difference between an artist who gets noticed and shown in the bigger cities. Maybe you have to plan something and make it sound like it means something? The closest I have to that is my Limited Ed. Clock Collection. Making 100 of anything is a plan isn't it? But they are functional works of art and perhaps not something to be taken as seriously. Who knows.


Daphne said...

"How laughing expresses something that words cannot. That is what art is like, it expresses something that otherwise cannot be expressed."

You nailed it.

Kim Hambric said...

I feel it is time to update my artist's statement.

Perhaps it will read: I like purty colors. I enjoy making thangs.

Then maybe I can be on the next Art City DVD.

Great Post Paula.

Shelby said...

Now I'll be hummin' that toon all day..

be well.

Clare said...

Hi Self Taught! Your wonderful posts are feeding my soul as I begin to go through them and catch up on what you've been doing and thinking about. I've written down the names of all the movies to rent and will see them very soon. And I love what you wrote about people's homes and the sameness of them. Some of the houses I love the best are those with quirky, unusual and found things and colors that really speak of the history and interests of the person living there. And your views on your art are very cool -- I love that you are yourself and that you chimed in and clarified "it is fun" when that person didn't accurately explain your work. Very cool.

gigi said...

i get so tired of people making self-absorbed "statements" about their work. sometimes the emperor has no clothes.

as a collector i am drawn to works and ultimately purchase them because they bring me joy, not because i want to make some deep dark statement to my friends and neighbors. and in my creative endeavors i follow the same rules -- because it's fun -- and oh yeah, i do believe you mentioned that already!