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My Name Is Iden | Relax baby, it’s just art

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By Iden Crockett

I recently held an exhibition of my artwork. As I was planning and putting all of that together, I was thinking back to past art events that I’d attended, and an image kept coming to me. An image of people keeping their distance, quietly passing by the different pieces of artwork as if they were bodies at a memorial service.

Thank goodness this wasn’t the behavior I observed at my show, but, even so, the image wouldn’t leave me. There is something in that behavior that is worth a deeper examination.

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We’ve all been there, whether it’s a museum, a gallery, or even an open house at our children’s elementary school. We stand with our arms folded behind us, looking, being so careful not to touch or damage or change what we are seeing. Maybe it’s because somewhere in our past someone told us this is how we should behave in the presence of art. We are there to observe quietly and then move along.

I don’t mean to say here that there is not wisdom in teaching people to be gentle and deliberate around that which is fragile. But this thought, that one can observe without interacting, is an absolutely fallacious one. It’s true that we can experience art just by seeing it, but through experiencing it we change it, filter it, distort it and refract it. It’s what we should do. It’s what we have to do. This processing is exactly what being human is, and it is why the need to create art is such a very human one.

I happen to be both a lover of and a creator of art. I am fascinated by the artistic process. By “artistic process” I don’t mean the specific techniques used or the manner in which inspiration is found, although those things are indeed worth considering. What I am interested in is the actual processing of raw sensory data that goes on within the mind of the artist.

That is what art is at its core. It is the reception and processing of data by the artist. What we see and hear, what we smell and taste, what we feel is all just raw empirical data. It is reflected waves and vibrations. It is electrical impulse. That data would continue being just that if it didn’t crash into a brain. The results of this impact are what we see as we are passing slowly through the gallery with our arms held safely behind us. We are seeing all of this data compressed and refracted through the prism of a human soul and then passed back out on its journey. It is still just waves and impulses but it has been changed, reconfigured by the artist and now that data travels, in its new form, until it again collides with an observer. One who was probably being so very careful not to disturb it on its journey.

This transfiguring of data and energy into something new and personal and then the sharing of it in its new form, the passing of the new energy to another observer, is art. This exchange can be a deeply personal and beautifully human experience, one that we should not be so shy about participating in. As an artist I want to share my life and experiences with an audience. I am driven by that desire. I get up every morning and create because I need to share my version of the energy that has crashed into me. As a lover and appreciator of art, I am just as eager to receive that energy.

I believe that art is a sacred and serious endeavor. But I also believe that it is a radiant and beautiful one as well. There is, of course, something to be said for being careful and mindful of the value of objects that we don’t own. And there is a time when a somber respect is due. These things are true but they do not need to intimidate us or close us to the pure joy of sharing our lives with another. I think that we can be mindful of our arms while still opening them to embrace the energy that the artist is trying to share with us. I want to feel that energy. I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to feel the world the way another soul did because that is what fills us and makes us whole as humans. We shouldn’t be afraid of this. We should see it as the lovely, intimate, human experience that it is, and welcome it with open arms.

*Iden Crockett is an artist and writer. She lives in Yellow Springs with her wife and three children. You can follow her work at http://www.mynameisiden.com.



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