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  • Lisa Stavinoha

Art and the Artist: Not One Dimensional

Do you have a friend or family member who is an artist? Have you ever spent any time in the near proximity of an artist for more than 5 minutes?

If you have, you have probably noticed several things, some people call them personality traits, quirks and some will call the artist hyper, scattered or just plain "different". You know what, all of those descriptions are correct and that is not a bad thing. How can all of those descriptions be correct? Yes!

As an example: When you go to the grocery store you shop for what you need/want. You see the food you like and dislike, you hear sounds related to a grocery store and you might smell the smells of baking or food being prepared in the bakery/deli area. This is NOT the case for an artist. When an artist walks into a grocery store they see colors and different shades/hues of colors, they see textures, movement, balance, the use of white space. An artist sees abstracts of common items, future paintings and sculptures. They hear a snippet of a conversation that is a beginning to a new story and painting, they hear a word or phrase that inspires a mixed media piece with poetry accompaniment. When an artist goes into the deli/bakery area of a grocery store they are entering an art gallery of images and sculptures created from the medium of food. The other shoppers in a store are not just shoppers, to the artist these people are performance artists. These people are performing whether they are just walking to get an item, on their phone or holding hands with a partner, it is all seen as a performance by the artist.

This same reaction happens everywhere an artist goes, whether it is to a grocery store, outside for a walk in nature or even to a dentist or doctor's office. This is why artists are considered "different" because honestly they are. Artists can be not only artists but writers, dancers, sculptors and anything else they can think of. Being creative in one area does not exclude a person from being creative in other areas as well. I write poetry, short stories, paint, mixed media, create with fibers, and I create performance pieces that accompany my creations that people never see, but one day when I get a solo show, these performance pieces will be a part for all to see.

Not only is the artist multi-dimensional but so is the art they create. Have you ever really looked at a painting and not only seen what the artist intended when painting but something else or something totally different? Most artist paint/sculpt/create their art with a set message in mind. Sometimes the public viewing that art sees the intended message right away and sometimes they see a totally unintended message. A great example of this is Michelangelo, The Last Judgement, The Sistine Chapel, 1541. The original artwork was of nude saints, martyrs and ordinary men, this nudity caused the audience to not to see the original message. All the audience saw was nudity. Another example is Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907. The women in the painting were painted in a cubist style giving them harsh angles and Picasso used inspiration of African masks as their faces not to mention the d'Avignon was the red light/prostitute district in Paris. Because of the non traditional look of the women and the fact it was implied they were prostitutes this painting and the use of the different styles was not appreciated but shunned.

Sometimes unfortunately people just "Don't Get Art". What can you do if you fall in this category?

  1. Keep an open mind. As seen by the examples above, you can miss out on amazing artworks if you just judge something based on it's surface appearance.

  2. Instead of trying to figure out what the artist was going for, just let the art guide you. Draw personal connections to the art based on your life and your life experiences.

  3. If you are going to a museum pick a museum that is relevant to your interest and your lifestyle.

  4. When you go to the museum, take your time and focus on small exhibits or small sections of exhibits, if it is a local museum, you can always go back and visit again. By doing your visit in small chunks, you will not get over whelmed and be able to stay focused on the art itself instead of outside noise.

  5. Lastly, as you look at the art, don't just look from the front but from each side, up close and standing back. Look closely at the brush strokes, the colors and the textures. Open your mind to memories and emotions and let them wash over you like a shower. You don't have to unpack them to recognize them.

Remember, art and artist are not one dimensional and your experience with art should not be one dimensional either.

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