ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her new column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.
When I was a young child, my mother took painting classes every Wednesday night at the local Y. Most of the time our lives were filled with the usual activities of family life, but when my mother returned from her art class, something in the air was always charged and different.
She would talk animatedly about what she had learned. I remember thinking how much younger she looked at those moments. I was too little to know what that sea change was all about on those nights, but I certainly felt it.
Later on, I realized that those evenings had been my introduction to the idea that art can inspire. And although I didn’t know what to call inspiration back then, I instinctively understood why people would want to seek the glow that I saw in my mother’s eyes.
If artists are often inspired by their work, it’s also one of the chief reasons people choose to spend their free time looking at it. Who doesn’t want to briefly put aside ordinary concerns and be entertained, stimulated and, if you’re lucky, inspired? And inspiration’s not easy to find these days, just check your local news.
When I go to a gallery or museum, I’m hoping for that “wow” moment that inspires me. It’s always a surprise and comes when I feel a rush of exhilaration or heightened awareness in reaction to what I see. Usually this happens when I find the art to be original or when the artist’s technique and talent strikes me. It’s a stop-time moment, when the art has reeled me in through its’ power, appearance and/or message.
I’d be hard pressed to explain the source of inspiration for an artist or an audience. But I do know that art can be a door to the unconscious where inspiration often resides. It can be liberating and moving to witness what’s behind that opened door: the freedom of an artist’s unrestrained ideas spread out across the playing field of art, without concern for the propriety or justification that usually defines our lives.
Of course, people enjoy art for many reasons without necessarily being inspired by it; just as artists don’t necessarily feel inspired each time they make something. Frankly, the arrival of inspiration is unpredictable anyway for both the artist and the viewer.
But sometimes, when you’re looking at a piece or creating it, things start to resonate within you in a personal way that’s difficult to describe. You may feel jazzed, in sync, uplifted and/or understood (and those reactions seep in and linger on afterwards).
At those moments, it’s hard to deny the power and allure of inspiration, as I first learned many years ago with my mother. Even if it only makes a brief appearance, the anticipation of finding inspiration once again, keeps you coming back to the source for more.
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