Telling Tales and Mixing Metaphors, a show I curated, opened on January 7th. at the Danville Art Galley. I gave the following talk that evening.
I chose these works for three reasons: First, each piece tells me a story I need to hear; Second, each piece is beautiful and; Third, I thought that if they were all in one place they might tell a bigger story together than they do separately.
Critics and art historians talk about what art is but artists, when they consent to talk, talk about what art-making is. There are a number of artists in this room and each one would probably have something different to say about the nature of art-making. However, since I curated this show, I get to say what I think first. I think art-making is story telling.
Stories tell me who I am, who we are together, what the world is. Stories are part of the way that human beings form and maintain a sense of community. A community can be seen as a collection of interwoven stories, told in every possible way--conversations, plays, actions, architecture, art. The storyteller and the listener are changed by each story told. Communities need new stories and new perspectives on old stories in order to stay vibrant. Visual art can portray aspects of the human story that are hard to put into words give new insight into old tales.
|Maat by Tricia Grame|
|Black Ice by Kirk Brooks|
On this wall and up the ramp you see two abstract paintings by Kirk Brooks. What story is he trying to give shape to with these brushstrokes? Something about the emotion he was feeling when he painted? Something about the gloriousness of color? Perhaps a little something about growing up with a Father who was a painter?
We participate in the artist’s narrative. All story-telling is participatory--you must have a teller and a listener. Art is participatory--you must have a maker of art and a viewer. When a piece of art works for you, it draws you in, it evokes feeling, you become a part of the story of the piece. In that moment the interaction between the artist’s act of making art and your act of responding to the art produces a new piece of art, something unique that may only last for the moment that you stand and look.
|Judy Shintani's Elderly in America, foreground|
Good works of art do not force meanings on the viewer; meaning emerges, adds up, and unfolds. With the best work the viewer is moved through a process of discovering meaning.
|Floating World, Priscilla Otani|