Emotional Investment

There’s a part of all of us that wants something to be true, because we want it. Our child’s first drawings we coo over, holding them up and saying ‘look! He’ll be an artist yet…”” while the objective outsider smiles politely and wonders what the colorful blobs are meant to be. The stories we write, and then wonder why they don’t sell.

The First Reader, popping into the office this morning while in the middle of breakfast prep, threw ideas at me, as he knew I was sitting here muttering at the screen for the specific reason of needing to write down a blog. It’s art day, according to that loose schedule I keep throwing out the window. “Little darling’s art,” he said, “and why modern art looks like it does.”

Well, there is a sort of connection. You know we need an emotional investment in order to enjoy something. Without it, there is no emotion engaged, and the experience (be it a book, or viewing of an art piece) feels flat and lifeless. Intellectually we know this is a good thing, and we ought to like it. It hits the objective standards of…

What if it doesn’t hit those objectives? What about art, that like the child’s drawing, is loved only by those who already have an emotional investment in it? The creator, the gallery owner who wants it to sell so they have a profit, the critics whose livelihoods depend on being able to see something that isn’t really there. Which leaves the rest of us poor schmoes out in the cold, usually.

Look, I’m not knocking abstract art. I’ve gotten into that before. Look at Juniper’s work. I’m really emotionally involved in it, for obvious reasons, but people who aren’t have given us feedback (including one of her paintings selling recently at a charity auction, Yay, Juniper!) that there is something in those daubs of paint that engages the emotions. However, when the explanation of why we should care extends beyond a few words, then… the art isn’t doing it’s job.

I see a debate all the time that photography can’t truly be considered art because it only captures what is there, there is no emotion to it. I’d argue this. I’ve managed a few times, in my fumbling untrained way, to capture something that goes beyond a snapshot of reality. We humans, we want to put emotions into everything. Left to myself, I can read a lot into a photo, telling a mental story that extends far beyond reality. Then again, I am a storyteller.

This is a photo, and yet it is also art. I feel emotions when I look at it, and most people will do the same.
This is a photo, and yet it is also art. I feel emotions when I look at it, and most people will do the same.
Daffodil Sky
bright flowers against a bright sky… not art, just a snapshot. See the difference?