Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

My Art’s Meaning

Posted on August 11, 2010

Don’t get me wrong—I love being an artist. I love making art. I just wish I had more control over how it’s received. No one seems to understand my art’s deeper, disgusting meaning.

Everybody refers to my paintings as “pretty.” They like the bright colors. They enjoy the soft lines. Can’t they break through the façade to grasp my work’s off-putting and disturbing subtext?

Take for instance this piece titled “Dragonfly Picnic.” Yes, all the insects look chipper in their top hats and parasols. But, do you notice anything about the shapes of the lily pads? How about the look of fear in the ladybug’s eyes? There's clearly a relationship between the dragonflies and the willow tree that frightens the ladybugs. Did none of you study WWI Balkan History? If you did, you’d cringe at my scandalous take on “dragonfly/ladybug” relations.

Or, the piece called “Turtles First Bicycle.” People look at a turtle riding a Victorian-era velocipede and take it at face value. I’ve never once had someone come up to me to talk about the horrifying sexual symbolism, let alone my comments on the class structure of contemporary South Africa. I don’t get it; it’s all right there in plain sight.

Sometimes I wish I could just tell people my art’s deeper, icky meaning. But, that’s not what art is. Art is about the back-and-forth. It’s about an artist challenging the viewer to grapple with inferences and implications.

Yet, somehow, none of the families at this library art fair seem interested in being challenged. One woman bought my piece “Bunny Finds Its Pencil”, saying it matched the green in her daughter’s nursery. I must assume she failed to notice the allusion to the deep psychosocial scars left behind amongst a landmine-ravage Pacific Ring. Nor, did she realize by extension our culture's fetishizing of commercial products made by— Oops, I almost gave to much away.

I don't know. Maybe she did get all that, and she just wants to expose her child to complex, disquieting concepts at an early age. Some people are weird like that.

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