We walk down the corridor and round the corner at the Gertrude Herbert Institute. The walls are lined with artwork with some on pedestals in the middle of the room. The current exhibit is created by works collected from Augusta State University professors.
I am drawn to this corner.
My friend, Elizabeth L., asks, “What is your impression?”
And I hesitate for a moment … thinking.
I know that we are the only two in the building because we had to find someone to let us in. The volunteer left the other building with the keys and escorted us over. Yet, I am well aware that words have power.
I don’t think I’ll ever look at a work of art again and verbalize a less than positive critique.
I can find something positive in most any writing, artwork … situation.
When I went to Madison the other weekend, I helped with the gallery that Elizabeth Collins is supervising. In conversation, Margaret (one of the painters) shared with me
“I once told my husband, ‘hanging my art on the wall is like standing naked before a crowd.’ ”
You may hear, “I like her boobs, but her fanny is too big” or “I would like her if her legs were more muscular,”
or “She looks much too serious” or “Her color is all wrong.”
Artwork is an outpouring of the inner thoughts, experiences and personality of the person who creates it.
And because women want so desperately to be admired and thought of as “beautiful,”
I’m going to venture to say that the attachment of approval or disapproval may be more personal for us …
more damaging or have more power to edify.
I know, I can create something for myself and be perfectly thrilled with it.
But, the thought of holding it at arm’s length and asking another person “What do you think?” …
Through the years I have had certain friends who should have been interested in my creations,
but would only comment W.H.E.N I held it at arms’ length and coaxed a response.
I have not had the blessing of encouragement that asked probing questions,
“Oh! What are you doing? May I see? What inspired you to create this? Tell me about it.”
So, I stood pondering Elizabeth’s questions, “”What is your impression? Which one do you like?”
Carefully, I responded,
as the door behind the piece opened and a man entered the room.
“I love this one. I love that it is made from wood. I like the whimsy that draws you in … the movement and the antiquity of the elements that create it.”
Elizabeth smiles and says, “That appeared to be right on cue.” She stepped forth and said, “Let me introduce you to the sculptor. Brian Rust, this is my friend, Karen.”
Brian Rust has been one of Elizabeth’s instructors at school. He came to take some photos before the exhibit is taken down. This particular piece was built, created and fitted to this wall in this particular room for this showing.
I love the whimsical feel of the piece. I love that the chairs at the base make it feel heavier at the bottom … and it looks as though it is lifting right up off the ground … traveling … taking off. It almost appears that a tornado has torn apart the furniture into basic elements and is lifting the pieces right up over the wall. You can almost feel the movement of the pieces as you stand and gaze.
From any angle, it is interesting.
I love the artificial patina that is created by his painting technique. I adore the depth of color and the added weathering.
I step inside to get a better look and a different angle for a photo.
Brian says that he has a warehouse filled with pieces of furniture. He especially likes chairs because they have an “almost human” form … with arms, legs and a back.
I love that some of the pieces are more than chair pieces … pieces of people … of bodies.
This part of a column or cornice is stunning. Oh, if it could only tell stories.
I am thankful that I chose to speak positivity about artwork (not that I saw anything I DIDN’T like!). Who knew that an artist would walk in mid-sentence. I could have been pointing out something I would have done differently. Those words … had they been heard by the artist … could have been painful. Like gossip, those words could have been arrows or knives in the creative spirit of another. But, thanks to Margaret, I hesitated … I thought about my response … and I chose to find the good and speak encouragement and inspiration.
It is sad that it has taken forty-nine years to learn such lessons
about the tender human heart.
But, I praise God for every lesson learned
and for whimsy, antiquity and the brave souls
who stand naked before others
and create art
from the outpouring of their hearts.