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day 3

"day 3"
paper and found objects collage on cardboard panel
gregory a. milinovich
so i remember walking through an art museum in washington d.c. when i was 16. i was impressed with the romanticism of some the art, and even more impressed by the realism of other art. i was drawn to those paintings and sculptures that closely imitated the world as i saw it. but i also remember seeing some other, i assume more modern, peices that looked like someone spilled paint on a big canvas (a la jackson pollack). i was unimpressed. i mean, at 16 i considered myself void of any creative or artistic ability and i thought to myself, "even i could spill paint on a canvas. how is this art?"
a few years later, while in college, i read an article by derek webb in which he wrote of this very same experience happening to him. he was looking at some modern art with a friend and he said, "anyone could have painted this." his friend's response really made him think: "yes, anyone could make it, but only one person did."
you may look at the collage above, or at any of my collages, and say to yourself, "what's the big deal? i could glue random bits of paper and objects together." believe me, i've asked myself this question (what's the big deal?) many times. but what i keep coming back to is that what makes art art is not that it is difficult to make. what makes a creation 'good art' isn't necessarily technical craftmanship. madeline l'engle says good art is that which makes cosmos out of chaos, that is (in my interpretation), it takes what may seem like unspeakable meaninglessness mingled with a desperate hopelessness and risks finding some meaning and truth and love and hope in the midst of it. i love that idea. i want to be that artist! i want to risk it all to help myself and others believe that there is hope, that there is a reason, that there truth and beauty and joy even in the midst of death and sorrow and pain and grief.
but the question that i continue to wrestle with is: is what i am making actually doing this? am i making art that is creating cosmos out of chaos?
i don't know the answer to this question, but i continue to wrestle with it. as i consider this "garbage" series of collages that i am sharing with you this week, i remember that when i made them, as an artist, i really was trying to say something meaningful. and so i wonder further if it is enough that the artist is trying to say something meaningful, or does the art have to be successful in some way? and if so, how is success measured in this context? if a peice isn't aesthetically pleasing to you, is it poor, or 'bad art?' if it fails to say what the artist intended, is it bad art? does it fail? if it is incredibly simple in its form or construction, is it poor? as a person who is daring to be vulnerable by gluing things together in a way that audaciously tries to say something meaningful, and who even more audaciously calls it art, i ask myself these questions regularly.
i have not reached any conclusions, yet. but i keep seeking. i keep knocking. i keep asking. i keep wrestling. and i keep gluing.


Emoly said…
Is a photographer considered an artist? They are merely taking a photo of something created by someone/something else. So does that make them an artist? My opinion is Yes. Their eye, how they see an object is different then how anyone else sees it, and they capture that moment.

I think that you are doing the same thing. How you see trash and how you can arrange it into art, is different then how anyone else sees it. Most people see it as trash. You tell a story with it. Is it a story anyone can understand? Yes and no. Yes, because we can see it in our own view. No, because no one can understand your meaning unless you explain, but even then we are seeing it through our eyes, not yours.

This is very deep.

Does everyone see the Mona Lisa the same? I've discovered that not everyone sees color the same, so how do we know we see other things the same? (i.e. some people will see a color as blue, others see it as purple)

Does everyone look at nature the same? Someone might look at a tree and see a tree. Someone else will look at a tree and see a home for birds, the leaves with water hanging on them, the way the sunlight hits it and creates shadows...

I'll leave you with that, and wait to see day 4 before I add more :)
greg. said…

i totally agree with you that a photographer is an artist. i guess i have no problem calling other people artists, but i have a hard time owning that title for myself. it feels pretentious to me.

i really like what you were saying about how people perceive things differently. you are so right that there is no universality to it: we all see things through our own lenses and filters and experiences and even physical eyes. what i intend to be conveyed may be very different from what someone actually takes away from it, if they take anything away from it at all. i guess this is just the nature of art. to make something that is less interpretative is to stop creating art and begin creating propaganda, at least as i see it. and i don't ever want to make propaganda. i want to make collages that allow space for questions rather than try to force answers.

thank you for your comment, it is helpful to me as i think seriously about these things. i look forward to continued conversation in the days ahead...

Joel said…
>>>there is no universality to it: we all see things through our own lenses and filters and experiences and even physical eyes.

I agree that every one percieves in different ways, but this does not mean that there is no consesus of opinion. Beauty is not totally relative, anybody's guess. We can say that among those who have spent significant time studying and appreciating art, there is a convergence of opinion. It is not science but it is how we can have art museums. There is a wide range of thought, but among those who have given half there lives to studying aesthetics much fat is easily cut out. This may be a lingering 'modern' opinion vs 'post-modern' but it makes sense in both.
Emoly said…
Joel is right, there is a convergence of opinion when it comes to museums and (some) art in those museums. But to that, I think we can agree on the piece and not whether we each find beauty in the piece. I am thinking of Michelangelo and Van Eyck. Of course they're artists. History tells us they are, we agree that they are. But what about Pollack and Ansel Adams? Do we agree they're artists because we're told they are, or do we think they're artists simply because enjoy looking at their work?

I think anyone who is creative is an artist. Greg is an artist even if he has a hard time with that "title", because he creates. Can we compare him to Michelangelo? Why not? They have both created art. A child can be an artist when they finger paint.

I'm going to say that it is as easy as that. That anyone who creates is an artist whether they share it with the world or keep it to themselves. If a tree falls in a forest does it make a noise?
greg. said…
whoa, emily...let's not get too deep into unanswerable philosophical questions here. let's leave that for another thread.

in all seriousness, i just don't see how there can be any universality in terms of aesthetics. i think that there can be consensus of opinion as to the importance of a work, or to the technical aspects of it, but not about its beauty. the idiom is that "there is no accounting for taste." and while that is, of course, overly simple, i think that there is a kernel of truth in it, that we all find beauty in different things and in different ways. in a postmodern world where everyone has been given permission to think for themselves and not accept what some established order (gov't, church, the art world, etc.) has told them to think, i just don't see how there can be any universality, and i strongly believe that there can be no consensus of opinion. museums, for example, are often displaying art that most people cannot relate to at all. art as a movement of the people usually doesn't end up in a museum for a very long time. most of what gets called art and hung in a museum these days is put there because it is avant garde or different or has some name recognition, not because it truly captures the spirit of a people, or moves them, or creates cosmos out of chaos. so, consensus of opinion seems irrelevant.
case in point: the music world. so much art is being created. every day new music is being created and listened to and downloaded. there is SO MUCH out there. and we have compartmentalized and specialized so much that each individual can insulate themselves with whatever art their tastes allow. there is no body telling them that beck is good and moby is bad. they can choose for themselves. i suppose this is a byproduct of consumerism. whatever it is, i think it has eliminated the possibility, for better or for worse, for a universality in terms of aesthetics. i am not standing with my postmodern relativists and saying that there is no universal truth! please hear me: there can be no universality in terms of perceiving beauty in art. put simply: there is no accounting for taste.


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