Art Subjectivity, Introspection, and Outward Manifestation
A couple months ago, a painting of mine called "May I Get You a Glass of Water?" was taken down from a business that deals with healing. Despite my intentions for the painting to be a positive motivator, a client of theirs had a negative reaction to it, and it was pulled. I respected their decision and still admire the staff there who do what they do for the well-being of others.
Since having the piece come down, I've had time to reflect on art subjectivity, my own rationale for my work, and the painting itself. But what it really brings up in me is a sense of pleading. A plea for all of us to dig a little deeper inside of ourselves. This painting is a comment on misogyny, asking us to think about how women continue to be slighted everyday in almost every culture. Put another way, this artwork is a request that we all treat each other with regard despite our sex. We're humans. We all come from the earth and we all return to it. While we're in the in-between (life as we know it) we have the very cool gift of consciousness. We have the ability to be present if we choose. We have the ability to approach everyone with respect if we choose.
Although the image painted is filled with fire, the title is water-based and founded in humility. The image and the title must be taken as a whole. So what about water? Water clears the throat to help us find our voice. It puts out the day-to-day fires that we feel in our minds and that we sense all around us. Splash it on your crust-laden eyes and open them! The woman in the painting is not in distress, she is calm. Her features are soft and her body is healthy. She braces herself and touches her head, becoming aware of her physical form and her surroundings. Her wild hair is tucked away in a wrap, but her situation is unsustainable and won't allow it to remain concealed for long.
This piece, like several of my works, is a call to action by the viewer. It shows the potential energy building up right before a kinetic, joyful burst. The title is the catalyst to the image. It is a work of art meant to empower women, not cripple us further.
"May I Get You a Glass of Water?" offended someone. (My assumption, because I was not given details, is that they took one look, immediately created a negative story, and dug no further.) For someone else, it could be the most boring work ever made. Another person may see it and think, "She does need a glass of water! Given that it is hanging in a place of healing, what is the artist trying to say?" The latter, of course, is the reaction that I had been hoping to get. But now I'm left wondering: who will take the time to ponder its subtleties? By creating this work, have I helped anyone look inside themselves? And on a larger scale, will the human race ever form deeper introspection, flip it inside out, and patiently approach each other as equals? And with love?