Columns — 15 November 2017

Published: November 8, 2017 

BY RHONDA BECKMAN

As an artist, I spend a lot of time sharing my perspective with others through my eyes. If I have a vision in front of me, I usually snap a photograph of that vision and then take it back to my studio where I process it through my mind in an artistic way. Sometimes that vision is as close to an actual representation of what I first encountered as I can muster, and sometimes that vision is filtered through the crevices of my mind which I output in a new, unique perspective that involves colour and shape, and a lot of organic lines.

Also as an artist, I appreciate the perspective of other artists, as they share their world through their mind’s eye as well. Van Gogh shared his manic swirls of frustration in Starry, Starry Night as did Frida Kahlo in her symbolic representations of a body broken in a bus accident. Through artists’ pieces, we see their life. This occurs in other ways as well; some exert their visions and experiences in words such as poetry or songs, novels or speeches. Some through dance, graffiti, or strumming on a guitar. We enter their world and are brought to our knees in sorrow or joy of their experience, without knowing them in the slightest.

Then there are times when we are thrown into trying to understand another person’s perspective when we least expect it. We shake our heads at the senselessness of the world and the struggles that we see in front of us, and at times, become quick judges of others. There is no painting for us to decipher, no song for us to analyze; we are simply thrown into someone else’s experience and wonder how to interpret what is seen in front of us. It can be distortedly confusing, and definitely frustrating. Let’s put it this way; imagine as an artist that I have conjured up an image in my mind and want to paint it on a canvas, but I don’t actually paint the picture. Instead, I have decided to take the blank canvas to a gallery and will explain what the image is to everyone that looks at the blank canvas. As I stand there, I will say things like, “Ok, imagine that the grass is green.” Some people will picture a brilliant lime green, for some it will be dark forest green, or lawn green or whatever colour of green their walls are. For some, with different vision, it may not be green at all. Then I will ask them to visualize a bird in the painting. For some that know me, they might automatically visualize a raven in the painting because of my love for ravens. Yet most will put their own favourite bird into that painting, either real or magical or imagined, because of their own personal experiences. Then I will ask each person that I assume now has a visual in their mind of what my art piece should look like, to paint what they think my art piece looks like. If it doesn’t look like mine, then I could very well be incredibly angry at them for not knowing what I had in my mind. I could judge them and chastise them for not understanding me well enough. Or, I could take it as an opportunity to learn something new about someone else, remove myself from focusing solely on my own painting, and try to look at the interesting qualities of the new painting that is in front of me from a different perspective.

Right now I am in the situation of looking at an unknown artist’s blank canvas and trying to figure out what the painting is. It is an interesting game of information gathering, confusion, anger, sorrow, curiosity, learning and patience. I will probably never know what this painting will look like as I try to conjure this artist’s perspective, but I am going to do so with the most open of minds as I try my best to consider that everyone has different perspectives. The picture isn’t always clear in front of us, and that’s actually what makes life quite interesting. Everyone has their own unique art gallery in their own mind’s eye.

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Jennifer Parsons

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