Monday, March 24, 1997

Opinion: Larger than Life

Published in the Mountainview

I now have the opportunity to experience my own art on the scale on which I experience others'. Five of my photographs now hang framed on the walls of my apartment, next to photographs by friends, commercial art, and maps of various parts of the world. At art galleries and museums I see photos blown up and matted, mounted on the wall.

My images are now in that context. The decision to do this was very personal: I want to be reminded of my visual artistry every time I walk into my living room and my bedroom. I want to remember that I am a photographer and to see some of my own best work hanging with what I consider to be that of others. It puts me in context, reminds me of my place, and, in the end, makes me smile.

I had a hard time choosing which of my thousands of images to blow up and put on my wall, for me to see, and for my visitors to look at. I wanted to choose something people would admire, but of which I was also very proud. I wanted to show off what I consider to be my best work. They will not be my best-selling images, nor my most universally accessible. They will, however, be my first favorites.

My own reaction has been the most interesting. Others have made the appropriate comments: "Oh. I like it," "It's,” and so on. I, on the other hand, see something new in each image each time I look at it. I remember something more about the rest of the scene, outside the photograph, or something someone said to me just before or after I made the picture. More often than not, I remember what I felt when I made the photograph.

I explore, each time I see a photograph, the feeling the artist had when she made the image. I try to feel what she felt, to figure out what she left out of the image, to figure out why there is a dark spot in the lower right corner. I have always done this, with photographs, paintings, lithographs, and so on. I have never before been able to study my own work.

I find, happily, that I can learn more from myself than I thought I could, I also have found a lot of room for improvement. variation, and learning. I can pay close attention to details I would have missed in a slide show.
This self-examination and evaluation of my own work is art excellent barometer of my mindset and ability at the moment. It permits me to understand more concretely where I am and what I am doing with myself. The art serves the artist, even as I create it.

It gives me hope that visual communication can still have this effect on me and on others; in an increasingly visual age expressive images are in high demand. Expression of feelings, ideas, and thoughts are at least as important as expression of facts, figures, and non-fiction. The world, shrinking and even closing in a bit, is becoming more surreal, more abstract. Art of all media are expressing this feeling.

The exploration of the artist's mind and heart have been the topic of much discussion and debate for centuries. Entering that dialogue is important and energizing. It affirms the relationship between the self and the surroundings, and enforces respect between the two. Not without risk, it invites not only praise but criticism and misinterpretation. That is part of the bargain: the art is left to speak for itself. Its effect is never predictable, and the artist will never react the same way to her own art as she does to others', or as others do to hers.

Perceptions of the world are dangerous: they reveal ourselves below the surface. Images created by artists, like words spilled by writers onto the page, give away sometimes more than they reclaim.

The relationship between an artist and the public is never clearly defined. I invite you to visit my walls and see for yourself, and to share with me your thoughts on the world I see.