At First Glance
Yesterday I took my daughters to the art gallery for a field trip on Canadian contemporary art. Now I have always enjoyed viewing art that included landscapes, like Monet paintings. Abstract Expressionism and Conceptualism in art has never been something I was drawn to.
We walked into the first gallery. I looked around. There were some blank canvases, black canvases and what looked to be some wrapped in cardboard, bubble wrap and tape. My reaction, at first glance, was that this gallery was obviously under “construction” and not finished being set up. It was then that the guide began to say these were the first pieces of art we would view.
What? There’s nothing there. This was going to be a short field trip. Just give it a chance, I coached myself through this internal dialogue.
Within a couple of sentences, I was drawn to what our guide was saying. She was, by all accounts, a natural story teller. She spoke about the art pieces with confidence, knowledge and most importantly a passion to share her love of art. She talked about how some artists had a routine and process about their work. The three “black” canvases had been painted over with hundreds of layers of prime colours. Looking at it from the side one could see the multi layered progression. It caused me to reflect on how people present themselves. At first glance sometimes all we see is that first impression. Not knowing what lies underneath, the process and experiences that developed layer after layer, shaping who we become. What? These three dark shaded canvases actually moved me, caused me to react, reflect and respond to the artist’s work. If I had just gone into the gallery, looked around without hearing the story, I would have left disappointed and feeling empty about the experience.
Walking into another gallery, I heard someone mutter a phrase I have often heard about abstract expressionism art before. “It looks like a child painted this.” Again our guide began sharing how some artists use spontaneity to create their art. Without planning or thinking, the artist is actively moved to splash, smear, drip or use some other creative method to abstractly create. We were given pieces of graphite and a paper, asked to choose a piece of art to sit in front and study the lines and markings of the work. Just sitting in front of the art, observing, I began to see different aspects of what at first looked to be chaotic emerge from the painting. I loved what spontaneity created.
So my take away from the field trip:
Perspective can change with pausing to listen to the story, looking deeper than the surface and allowing yourself to feel the emotions drawn from the experience.
And I fully plan to return to the art gallery again, as I left with several stories of my own just waiting to be written.
So my friends, may your day be filled with new experiences and your cup with coffee!