I love the concept that what we “see” in something is what is already within us. What attracts us are those traits which we possess and value, and what strikes a nerve is often something about ourselves that we are unhappy with. Other people act as mirrors, reflecting our own traits back to us. If something is not within us, we will not have a strong emotional response to it. For example, my eldest son is quite hard on himself, and gets extremely frustrated when he isn’t automatically good at something, like reading. He has responded to his frustration by calling himself stupid, and giving up. This kills me a little inside every time I hear it, because he is not stupid, he is actually quite smart for his age, but also, because I have an internal fear of not being smart enough. Him saying that strikes a nerve inside me because that’s how I feel, and I don’t like it because I’m insecure myself. Meanwhile, it doesn’t bother my husband at all, in fact, I don’t think he “gets” the level of frustration that our son feels, because he doesn’t have the same gremlin to deal with, for he is confident within his intelligence.
I believe this is true of art…we see within a painting or sculpture or photograph what we are feeling or experiencing in our own life. Our reaction to art is a reflection of how we are feeling in the moment. For example, I created this piece with the intention of expressing vulnerability. I wanted to show strength in vulnerability, allowing one to be transparently true to oneself, yet strong. Brene Brown expresses her definition of vulnerability as “our most accurate measure of courage”. Vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen…really seen. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Vulnerability is strength, not weakness. It is allowing others to see your heart and soul in their truest forms.
Yet, when I was finished this piece and showing it to people, I had varying responses to the emotion portrayed. One friend described her as sultry, and another as very sad. These are quite opposite responses to the same image! To be sultry, one must be confident, whereas sadness brings on a feeling of hopelessness, in my mind. It’s all in your own mind’s perspective. And that’s the vulnerability in sharing art! It may trigger positive or negative emotions in people, which may be strong, and result in being expressed as “like” or “dislike” of a piece, having nothing to do with the artistry itself, and everything to do with the emotion it makes a person feel…what is mirrored back. In my opinion, if art makes you feel something, anything, it has been successful in doing its job.
So, what do you see? Does she bring up an emotion for you? What is it? I’d be honoured if you’d share your experience with me, even if in private. You know where to find me. 😉 I’m curious.
And remember, you are never more courageous than when you are willing to be imperfect and vulnerable. Cheers.