Thursday, October 26, 2006

Abstract art: Yoga for the mind. Aka: what do I say about That???

“Whoa, that’s so good!”

“I don’t like that.”

Such comments abound when viewers see a piece of art work. There are problems with such analyses, however. Unless you purposely want to tend up in a debate, you might consider some other comments. It may seem strange that a person might not automatically say “whatever they want” about a work of art, but consider for a moment that the works are an artist’s creative brain child. Just as, even with your right to freedom of speech, you wouldn’t blurt, “That’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.” Or “I don’t like her.” you do well to moderate your opinions on art.

The benefits are manifold. Your own perceptions can expand with a more gracious vocabulary. Other shy, blossoming, or practicing artists are surely within earshot and will be either inspired or discouraged by your contribution. If a butterfly on one part of the globe affects winds on another part, our words have even greater ripple effects. Additionally, the artist of the work you are evaluating could potentially hear or read your comment. So, to help the arts develop, even through baby stages and awkward growth phases, you need some words that will help and not harm.

Here are some seed ideas that you can use to grown your own phrases:

“I see _________________ (eg: reds, resting/fighting, in a dark surrounding)”
“I like how ________________(eg: the lines move/don’t move; the colors blend)”
“This makes me think of ______________” or “...feel ___________”
“I wonder how this painting developed.”

Questions are always helpful because they open the mind to the possibility of not-knowing. We usually want to know, so practice this posture for a stretch!