Ahoy, ahoy! I can hardly believe the semester is coming to a close so quickly… I have really loved writing this blog, it’s been such a great learning and growing experience. Who knows, maybe I will continue writing it in the future!
Yesterday, I attended an artist’s talk by Andrea Mortson at the Owens. While the talk was interesting and entertaining, upon further discussion with my roommate, she remarked that she found Andrea had not answered many questions about her work and that the talk was very open ended. What do we do when the people we turn to for answers about specific ideas or concepts seem to be drawing as much of a blank as we are? This brings me back to a problem I had in my Globalization class earlier this term. We all had to present our ideas and concepts for a massive research paper that we were to be working on all term. When it came my turn to present, I expressed my frustration at being incapable of establishing a concrete answer to my research question. My professor, who can be rather cryptic sometimes, merely remarked that “sometimes, the journey of trying to find an answer is as important as the answer that you are trying to find” or something along those poetic lines.
To me, this concept of the journey toward an answer was what Andrea’s works were. Some of her works, she felt incapable of describing, yet also expressed that what we thought about the work could not be wrong. She did not have a “right” answer, and maybe she never would. Why does an answer matter so much to us? Why do we always have to have concrete examples or structures or concepts behind everything? While Andreas work is not abstract, perhaps the concepts behind it are. In a sense, our own personal journey towards answering “what does this mean” can be just as important as finding a concrete answer to that question. For some questions, there are concrete answers, quantifiable answers, empirical answers. For some questions, the theoretical answers will be woven out of a personal journey and account of the effects something may have on a person. Often, we make assumptions and classifications about the meanings behind the work of deceased artists, so I think it is understandable that we may be shocked at the inability of a living artist to express a clear cut, well executed answer about what exactly is being represented or expressed in their work. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so shocked.