I don’t get art

Let’s start with a couple qualifiers. I love art, I just don’t understand it. This isn’t a position piece, it’s not an argument, it’s a discussion I’m having with myself (and hopefully you). I’ll probably contradict myself and that’s the point. I can think of statements about art I agree with that are opposite of other statements about art that I agree with, and that’s why I don’t get it.

In the video What is Visual Literacy, the presenter Brian Kennedy talks about the importance of being able to see what’s in front of you. That’s great, it’s important for stuff like fundamental situational awareness, but why does it matter with a drawing or a picture? When the stakes are low (like in a museum), why am I not allowed my own interpretations? The artist is a communicator and ostensibly wants to make me feel a certain way, but if I derive a different feeling, does that make me art illiterate? I don’t believe so, but the tone of the video says otherwise. Kennedy talks about the necessity of imparting this skill on people, which I want to say is a total waste of time. But it isn’t. Being able to interpret visual cues is absolutely critical to daily life, and being able to predict other peoples’ interpretations of your own visual cues is what sets artists apart. A great example is Kennedy’s presentation itself. This slide is one of the most effective slides I’ve ever seen in a position presentation.

From the Presentation “What is Visual Literacy” by Brian Kennedy

The slide makes a point, gives three pieces of evidence, and provides a new concept. The font and color scheme (its not actually black) are clear, aren’t distracting, and he rolls through several unobtrusive pictures to enhance his point. The question then becomes, if an artist makes a point and I don’t pick up on it, is it the artists fault or mine?

I gain a lot from art, but people have looked down on me because I don’t care about hidden meanings, just like I don’t care about the opinions critics. I recently saw two movies about art critics, The Last Vermeer and The Burnt Orange Heresy, both of which I highly recommend even though IMDB gives them pretty low approval ratings. There’s also a fantastic, though I can’t find it, response from Amy Tan to a thesis someone wrote about her book The Joy Luck Club in which the thesis writer finds all this hidden symbolism and meaning, and Amy Tan was just like, “yeah none of that’s in there.” Idk, I read the book in high school and my teacher had her response so I’ve never known the source.

Again, I don’t have a final point here, just trying to form my own opinion.

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