When I was younger I must confess I didn’t understand art very well. The passion, complexity, and heart that many artists pour into their work were lost on me.
I remember once when I was around 14 years old, my family took a trip to Washington D.C.. I was very excited about the trip because we planned to go to the Air and Space Museum, and the Natural History Museum. What could be better for a young 14-year-old boy than fighter jets and Dinosaures? The museums were wonderful, and I even walked away with my own set of dog tags that I wore well into my 20s if you can believe that.
As our time in Washington came to a close conclusion my Father offered for us to go see either the Modern Art Museum or the Classical Art Museum. Knowing next to nothing about art I remember our family deciding to go to the Modern Art Museum.
We walked around looking at the various sculptures and paintings, but I didn’t really understand what I was looking at. To me, they were just pictures and statues. I actually remember my father and me poking fun at a particular painting which was a large white canvas with a single black stroke of paint down the middle. To us, it was just a canvas for a single brush stroke. Something so simple that a child could do it. Why all the fuss? Why was it on display? More important why was it sold for several thousands of dollars? We didn’t get it.
As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate art more and more. Perhaps it is my own efforts to create art, or maybe it is just the wisdom of age and the collection of a lifetime of different experiences. Regardless, now when I see a work of art, be it a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, etc. I see the artist behind the work. Their life and experiences shape their creative mind and push them to express themselves. What is even more impressive, to me, is when an artist chooses to display their work for the world to see.
Many artists, myself included, use art as a way to express the pain and hardships that they carry within themselves. The artistic craft they choose to practice offers a path to a stiller and more quiet mind. A mind that is often very loud and filled with doubt. Yet, despite their demons screaming at them that they are no good, these brave artists choose to not only create art but share it. If that isn’t an example of bravery then I don’t know what is.
So the next time you are looking at someone’s art, don’t just see the thing itself but look deeper. See the artist, see the passion, see the struggle, and applaud the bravery.