Final post in a blog series by guest blogger Erin Schalk, an artist who lives in Moore.
Scenario Three: the diplomatic audience member. This member sincerely wants to understand what your work is about, but she is fearful of insulting you by saying something that you will perceive as unintelligent or uninformed. Or, this member may dislike your work, but she has an emotional connection to you by being a friend, family member, or co-worker, and she does not wish to make her true feelings known for fear of damaging your relationship. She may respond with comments that seem generic or disingenuous such as, “I really like the colors in this one. It would match well with the décor of my living room.”
Coping Strategies: This member may be the most open-minded as a result of her interest in your work and/or her personal connection to you. Do not miss this opportunity to bring her into your world. As with the previous example, describing your work in a manner that is unintimidating is a good start. For the diplomat who initially finds your art unappealing, this explanation may be enough to persuade her to give your piece a second look, especially if she can see the connection between your work and your commentary.
Internationally renowned artist Xu Bing has spoken on the importance of bringing art to people of all levels of understanding, and he has expressed his hope that “my work will reach the broadest spectrum of people possible." In my experience, when I can describe my work in a manner that my audience understands, they become excited with their newfound level of comprehension. This ability to understand is often what gives abstraction validity in their previously skeptical minds. In most circumstances you must be that connection which facilitates such understanding within your audience. A stronger support network is often the result.
Need help with communicating about your own work? OVAC, in partnership with Creative Capital, is hosting the "Verbal Communications" workshop for artists on August 7. Space for this workshop is limited so an application is required. Applications are due June 30. Visit www.ArtistSurvivalKit.org for details.