Art As Expression, Part II: Conversation vs. Controversy

January 28, 2009 at 7:21 pm (2008)

Van Gogh's Starry Night (Flickr)

Jumping off from yesterday’s post, I’ve only recently become aware of just how important art and creative expression is to me, and just how much a part of me it always has been. Yet, I’ve really only now just realized why that is, for what it can provide.

Art, in general, not only evokes inspiration and an appreciation of beauty, but it stirs emotion and sparks conversation that either allows you to look at the piece from a different perspective or further cement your opinions and defend your viewpoint.

When I was in college, this was my favorite part of studying literature. What you take with you going into a book is just as important as what you get out of reading it. It seems that every reader has a different opinion or viewpoint based on their own experiences, and each opinion is just as valid as the one before (so long as you have reasoning to back it up).

In poetry, there are multiple interpretations of a single stanza, though the words are exactly the same and read by millions. In music, someone might be moved to tears while others might quickly skip to the next song. In art, one might see stars while another might see war.

My own tastes are rather broad. In music, I like everything ranging from rock to classical. In art, I favor everything from Renaissance Art to the Impressionists to Art Deco (Tamara De Lempicka) to Pop Art (Roy Lichtenstein). Much like music and books – if I like it, I like it; I have my own opinions and I’m not afraid to voice them.

But not everyone does.

People are often hesitant to express themselves and their tastes for fear of creating controversy, yet that is precisely why the world of art, in general, is so fascinating, so exciting. Creative expression is individualistic; having different viewpoints and interpretations sparks conversation and debate.

To me, art is just as much about that conversation, connecting with others and transforming your views, as it is about the appreciation of beauty.

What does art mean to you?

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Art As Expression, Part I: The Art/Work Balance

January 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm (2008)

Monet painting by FunFront (Flickr)

Whether it’s the subtle inspiration of nature, the wisdom and thought (and escapism) in books, the medley of colors in art, or the intense emotion that is provoked through music, I love every form of creative expression for the beauty and pleasure they provide. Art – through dance or musicals or sculpture or poetry – has the ability to evoke the senses, stir the soul, and even create debate (or controversy, depending on the audience).

For something that is such a huge part of me and my life, I find myself once again questioning the work/life balance in terms of creativity. How do you express your creative individuality in an office environment while maintaining that degree of required professionalism?

The question was brought up by Andrew Norcross, who wondered what kind of artwork would be appropriate for his office walls. Every office I’ve ever been in has the standard Monet, Renoir, or Degas prints, and though I personally love the Impressionists and would most likely choose one as an extension of my tastes, they absolutely don’t fit everyone.

And neither do ducks on a pond, lighthouses by the sea, or cottages in a field of wildflowers, which is the artwork I notice most often in doctors’ offices, usually for sale.

However, there seems to be a reason for why these prints are so favored in professional settings, and unfortunately that reason has nothing to do with personal taste, but everything to do with office politics. Not only do these works of art emphasize a sense of overall serenity, but they dispel controversy (which also means that they don’t create conversation, which is a whole other post you can look for tomorrow).

I see both sides of the coin. On the one side, the office should be free from something that could essentially create distraction and spark more stress. On the other side, most individuals have a desire to express themselves creatively, and, with eight hours spent at a desk, that is usually done through customizing their surroundings.

So how does one exhibit their individual tastes in this kind of professional setting? Do you compromise and strike a balance that will appease both parties? Do you rock out to your favorite bands at home, but play soft jazz in the office? Do you perhaps choose your favorite artist, but go for a print that is more professional?

Does that then stifle your individual and creative self?

Because my tastes are so eclectic, I’ve found that I’ve been able to easily compromise and find my own balance in this regard, but it’s not that easy for everyone.

How do you find balance?

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How Do You Love?

January 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm (2008)

The truth that you’ll find will always be
The truth you hide.
And the words that you fear will always be
The words you hear…

Collective Soul, “How Do You Love”

All You Need Is Love by Four Symbols (Flickr)

I haven’t really talked about relationships on this blog before because 1) I haven’t been in a relationship for…let’s just say awhile and 2) I’ve really only just begun to learn to love myself again. But I would be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that the thought of love has always lingered, sometimes unwillingly, somewhere in the back of my mind. That question has been there, a shadow of a thought, wondering when I would fall in love again, wondering if it would be meaningful and lasting. And at my lowest points, I’ve even wondered if I was worthy of it again at all.

I can try to analyze why I haven’t found love since that long-term relationship, but every reason seems like a tired excuse. The always-easy answer is that I just haven’t found someone I’ve connected with, but that’s kind of a crap-answer and not entirely true. What’s truthful is that it has taken me a really, really long time to get over my first relationship, to allow myself to be open to something else.

And if I want to be really honest, I’ve realized that I may very well have been unconsciously sabotaging myself out of fear.

The heartache I had experienced ran deep, and in the end, I was way more hurt than I ever expected, than I ever let on, than I ever dared to admit even to myself.

And that hurt, I now know, is what has prevented me from taking chances again, from allowing myself to be vulnerable. It’s partly what has held me back for so long. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that a bit of that fear lingers still.

I’m not exactly sure what this hesitation is or why I still cling to it. Maybe I’m afraid of not getting a chance, of being overlooked. Maybe I’m afraid of being passed over for something better, something more appealing. Maybe I’m afraid of being forgotten.

Maybe I’m afraid of admitting that sometimes love just isn’t enough anymore.

I’m a stronger person than I was then, a different woman. I’ve passed that stage of romantic ideals and fairytale beliefs, but, still, I long to believe in something again, to know that there is something out there worth fighting for, and that there are people out there willing to fight for it.

I don’t know. I don’t know what love has in store for me; I don’t know what it is I’m looking for or if I’ll ever find it. But love, as crazily cheesy as it sounds, is such a huge part of me, and I don’t want to bury that side, to hide away from it again.

I don’t want to, and I won’t. Because little by little, I’m gathering the strength that will allow myself to be vulnerable again, to open up to something potentially beautiful, even if it means risking heartache.

Because, in the end, just getting the chance to love has got to be worth it all.

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