Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?
Yes and no.
As an art teacher I do learn a lot about my students through their artwork, but they are really new to art, most don’t consider themselves artist yet, but they are pre-teens so EVERY thing is about them so they usually put a lot of their personality (or sometimes the parts that they want people to know about) into their art. Some of my assignments ask them to put that sort of thing out there.
I know my experience has been that in the past my work held a lot of my personality and passions, almost to the point of therapy. Now not so much. At least ,I don’t see the same level of meaning and subtext that I used to.
Is the work you did ten years ago different?
YES, the work I am doing now I think is very different. For several reasons… one I have been teaching now for 10 years. As part of my job I have to experiment in a lot of different mediums, make examples, explore ideas, take classes on new techniques with new materials. etc. So I feel pretty scattered in a lot of ways. 15 years ago I was working in a gallery and showing art more regularly, I was focused on my one medium (collage) creating in a series and entering shows and contests. I had a body of solid work. I do think that this work had a lot of my personality in it, of the person that I was then. There was a lot of depression, relationship and body issues and those came out in my work. One of the things I LOVED about gallery openings is that people would talk about my work either to me, and ask questions, or with other people and I would overhear their comments. So much of myself would come out in the work that I had NOT intentionally put in there.
For example in this piece (from 1993)a viewer pointed out that the blue swirls near the pelvis of the woman looked like ovaries. I did not intend this, or think of that as a symbol, but the piece has a lot to do with relationships and some struggles I had about whether or not I would want to or be able to be a mother. Also in this piece the face is a mirror, which I mostly did because I was not happy with my ability to draw faces at the time. But I was asked if it was because the person didn’t know, or was searching for who they were. I realized that this really did fit at the time.
My work now, maybe still reflects my personality, I am just much more settled in my self but less settled in the techniques and skills of my media.
Is the content or the media the same? Neither are the same for me now. But I am a very different person too. It would feel false to attempt to still create the type of work I was making 10-15 years ago. In fact I have tried to do some of that style/type of work recently and it is not working for me.
I believe I have matured artistically and personally, BUT I am still needing to hone my skills in my new choice of medium, fiber. If I had stuck with the same medium and not been dabbling in a ton of stuff for work and for fun, then I think I would have some nice bodies of work, but that might also have become stale and repetitive. I think I needed to change my medium to move to a new level artistically but in the meantime I have lost some of my direction.
Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?
As an online friend of many artists, I know many that are well developed in their art and I can look at a piece and KNOW it was made by a particular person. They have a style that is well developed, a skill with their chosen medium and have worked towards making a body of work. But I don’t KNOW if I really KNOW them… I have a picture in my mind about them, based on their work that may or may not be accurate.
Bridgette creates work that I envy in what I see as a calm zen of simplicity. Through her work I imagine that she is an introspective, spiritual person. She has trees as a common symbol, which I see as someone who is grounded. There is still many different emotions in her work as she struggles through the trials of daily life, but it all still seems centered.
Angie’s work is so full of story, place, ideas and her beliefs. I feel like I know so much through her work about her and about the world. Her style, symbolism and passion is so solid and mature. I am proud to own one of her pieces that not only told me something about her, but also tells me something about myself.
Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?
Not really or not yet, I have been struggling with my work for the past couple years, not having a direction or a solid body of work. Not feeling inspired or having a theme. I just feel very scattered. Not sure what steps I need to take to get past this block. But perhaps getting out to some shows or artist groups so that I can talk to people about my work and find out what my current work is SAYING to other people.