I just came across a painting I made about 25 years ago. It was an assignment I did in school. The teacher handed out fortune cookies and after we all ate them we were supposed to create a picture that communicated the fortune that was inside. Mine was a reminder of how in times of great anger there also is the possibility for reconciliation. Both simultaneously exist together. Always. My assignment was to depict this duality.
How could I show the idea that somehow when we are feeling incredibly guarded and hurt that we can leave some crack of ourselves open to the possibility of reconciliation. That amidst the anger and hurt there is also the choice of forgiveness?
Looking back now, I still think the idea of the barbed wire, the actual canes of a thorny rose bush are a strong metaphor for how we protect ourselves. The small bud represents the easily overlooked alternative to this reaction of anger and defensiveness. Although small and not easily seen it represents the possibility for reconciliation and forgiveness.
This was one of the first times in making art that I began to understand the power of juxtaposition. If two things that are opposite from one another are put together in the same painting, or any form of art for that matter, there is the potential for making art that moves people.
I believe this is because we live in a world that tells us again and again that things are not singular but come always with their opposing counterpart. If something is clear and strong, there also exists something weak and subtle nearby. The moment we feel self confident, lurking beneath this feeling is the nagging ones of self doubt and insecurity. Bright saturated color is almost craving to be placed besides dull, muted ones.
I see how my interest and work is centered around this idea of always having a choice between at least two sides of an experience. The creation of art that carries juxtaposition simply reminds us of our life and how it feels to be alive.
Painting, and art in all its forms, is a metaphor for this notion of duality. Taking chances when you are not sure. Painting large even though you feel small. Placing the bold next to the meek. Line against shape. Gouging a perfectly smooth surface. Losing control when you feel you should not.
For me, I find tremendous possibility and buoyancy in this aspect of life. It is just simply never too late to do something new– to dance when you haven’t, to try when others say you can’t, and of course to realize that it is never too late to forgive.
I am curious. Does this idea show up in your life and work too?
P.S. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.