Creating retrospective art stories

I was never a big fan of English classes in school. I really like to read, but it always irked me when a teacher would ask us questions about what the author may have meant to be read “between the lines”. Unless the author wrote an autobiography, there is no way to know and therefore no right answer. We can talk about the possibilities till the cows come home and the chances of any one of them being accurate are very slim. Yet, the teachers would expect us to give the “right” answer, for which supposedly there has been some previous consensus elsewhere. Do we know if the authors intentionally put in specific hidden messages or wanted to leave something up for interpretation?

The same goes for art. Yes, you can look at a painting and experience certain emotions, which might also be different for a lot of people. But would you really stand there searching for the meaning behind a black square? You can describe an artist’s style and their originality, but do you really want to put words in their mouth? Or is it that if it weren’t up for interpretation, art would lose its luster?

Maybe I like direct presentation of facts and that’s why I became a scientist. Even in science, I get a bit of a knee jerk reaction when someone says that you are supposed to turn your research results into a “story”. My inner response has always been “I am not aiming to write a fairy tale – I want to show solid and convincing data.” When I was in graduate school, my mentor would often talk about presenting data in a logical rather than chronological order. It makes sense. If you want to sound convincing, you can create an illusion of executing a perfectly planned out project, hiding all of circling that actually went on behind the scenes. You can present perfectly logical reasons for performing things in a certain way, compared to much more haphazardly reality. Are these after the fact actions justifiable? Do they help to paint a better picture and does the real process no longer matter?

Despite my strong feelings about this subject, a couple of weeks ago I had a realization. I could take several of my pieces of art that I have created over the last couple of years and tie them into a series. I could attach additional meaning to each piece and put them in logical order. Would that make sense and result in the series becoming more thought provoking? Or would it be blowing things out of proportion?

Here is my series. I will explain the “logical” order in the next post. In the meantime, I would love to hear any guesses.

Chronological

Logical

And here’s a photo from my art show at Greenpoint Gallery in Brooklyn last week.

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