So often, it can be easy to discount the viewer, when you are an artist. I see it, in artists disillusioned. They despair that people don't buy art, or how they didn't get any press on their last show. What I hear loud and clear, is a disdain of the viewer, their audience. In focusing so deeply on themselves, they fail to consider the value proposition of the art they are trying to sell. In short, what's in it for the viewer?

In the Creative Loafing interview on Sprawl with Michael Rooks he says that,  "A really powerful work of art is something you can look at every day." I would take this further to say that a successful piece of art is something that inspires the viewer to feel something. I saw a Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living some years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and finally understood what this iconic shark tank art was all about. To walk past it was to feel the shark animate and swim past you. It was arresting. Whatever emotion it is that a piece of art provokes you to feel, joy, pain, disgust -- its the reaction makes the work a success. Failure in art, makes the viewer feel nothing, just indifference.

It's not enough just to be decorative. Pretty things are available everywhere, and at a cheaper price point if you find it in a department store. In a Hyperallergic interview, Pam Longobardi said it best, "I like art that does work — all kinds of work, from intellectual work to emotional work to work in society. I think art has a job to do, as opposed to being expensive and passive luxury objects."

Do the job & make artwork that means something. Let people tell you what they see in your work, and let every interaction be an opportunity to test whether they see it the way you do. You might learn something.

Angela BortoneComment