At a Georgia Papageorge walkabout a few years ago, we overheard a woman tell her teenaged children:
“There are two types of art: The kind of art that goes with your curtains, like I make, or this kind of art here, where the artist puts meaning into the work.”
mixed media over canvas over board
11 September 2001, 2002
230 x 150 cm
At the time we chuckled at the phrase – “putting meaning into the work” – but at least the woman was honest about her own artmaking.
On Saturday, I attended a disastrous walkabout. One of the reasons it was a disaster was because the artist could not infer meaning from her work beyond mark making and rendering objects that “made an impression” on her. No offense, lady, but a horse is not just a horse, and you don’t draw horses just because you happen to like horses. And playing with turpentine and ink is fun, yes, and although the work was beautiful maybe the objects you choose to draw has more meaning than just being objects that a famous artist had drawn too.
Maybe I’m too harsh in my criticism, though.
Maybe it’s just that she could not articulate the full meaning, due to lack of words, or because of shyness.
After all, visual artists choose visual images as their medium of expression for a reason.