Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sharing Space


Universal Vision (To the Class of 2018)

In the most diverse classes I’ve ever taught, multiracial, multicultural and from different national and economic backgrounds, there was never any problem understanding each other’s art. The expression and feeling in visual form engages a universal response system. From the beginning of life, we learn the ups and downs of navigating our world using the same systems of response to space as everybody else. This specific and highly nuanced relation to surrounding territory sees the state of balance and the trajectories of moving objects and anticipates what to do in relation to them. Awareness of the body’s adjustments to these expectations creates the feeling we experience consciously. Just because we’re not conscious of the first part doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, perception is always guiding conscious attention to the needs that demand it. From infancy, we learn the way the world behaves in a commonsense physics that becomes so automatic it’s taken for granted, yet it’s a complex multifaceted intelligence that scaffolds conceptual knowledge. Art stimulates visual intelligence stirring feelings with essential form based on the relationship with space we share as a species.  Cultivating that level of understanding is a way to build on our commonality. Human differences are just the skin of who we are cloaking the outside of the core understanding we share.
    
The particular details of every person’s life are varied, but they are structured by universal human needs. The locations of our memories may look very different and school particular sensitivities, but the routines of living are basic to us all. The patterns of home, school, work, social gathering, create common circuitry through the way we function within them. Beneath that is the hardwired response to gravity, movement and balance. The ability to discern significance can be developed by looking at art which reinforces essential relations. This builds the circuits of visual sensitivity and triggers personal reflection that builds on human meaning structure. It needs no translation and creates bridges where words cannot.

With new graduates coming into the workforce, employers would be wise to recognize that art students have concentrated on training their perceptual intelligence and this attunement to the big picture can apply anywhere. It’s a way of thinking that’s been neglected by education and those who have immersed themselves in it at an art college have cultivated their ability to cut through the mountains of information to see what’s important. That combined with the practice of their creativity offers an exceptional resource for the future.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ten Years of Seeing Meaning



"Material Dimension"  Most viewed image on blog


I launched this blog in April of 2008 and it’s been a pleasure to share thoughts and images that express my sense of what a picture can show about what matters.  On the occasion of this tenth anniversary I want to thank everyone who has stopped here to read or look, and think about how meaning is expressed visually. By showing what’s significant, art expands perception Developing the wisdom of the overview will be more useful to a rapidly changing future, than preset ideas. To trust what we see puts universal values at the core and takes every situation for the unique experience it is rather than filtered by labels and categories.
Having readers from ninety countries shows that these are ideas that resonate all over the world. There is a global shift of consciousness that is spreading as the necessary foundation for effective future thought.
To celebrate my ten years sharing these ideas, here are the links to my five most popular essays in order.





Here are the top five images.

"Heaviness"

     

"Restraint"



"Cool Under Fire"



"CoCausal"


What a pleasure it’s been to emphasize a shift to perceptual thinking that feels necessary and that uses an untapped capacity it’s time to put to use. Hopefully more will share their ideas on the same concepts, and if they do, in the future I will take advantage of the opportunity for dialogue and comment back.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

More Primitive Emotions

Snarling Puppy  oil on panel   2018         photo by Kyle Kutner

This is currently showing at the Peale Center until May 6.

The Need to See

Nina Simone “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

An image is a starting point for thinking. What it triggers is evoked from the life experience of the viewer, but the trigger itself is a structure of interrelationships that offers a way of putting past observations in a new light. Art presents a new perspective and the life of the work once created is continued in the minds of the viewers. The most significant new ideas always involve seeing in a new way whether in an individual’s personal evolution or a paradigm shift in a field of study. The philosopher Thomas Carlyle said, “The chief value of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity”. This is good brain chemistry. So many of the connections to the nucleus accumbens, considered the pleasure center, come from the area associated with creative thinking and other higher mental activity, the prefrontal cortex. One function of art is to get people’s minds working, not just to stimulate new ways of thinking but to direct attention to what is important, to emphasize values. People need to know what matters.


Ai WeiWei is an artist that sees the need to make something visible, showing what numbers on a page can’t do, move us with the visceral reaction to quantity thereby making us feel the impact of the numbers. He draws attention to lost schoolchildren or refugees, big groups that are ignored to avoid feeling the connection to the tragedy. In the great line from Arthur Miller’s, “Death of a Salesman”- “Attention must be paid.”, talking about the everyday struggles of living. Art shines light on what people need to see. As long as we don’t see, we can avoid responsibility. When we see, we can’t avoid responding. That’s why art can have powerful influence on changing consciousness, and that’s where serious change will have to happen. Once a situation is taken in differently, it can change a whole point of view.


While the internet opens new territory to see, because it is led by the personal search, what a person is looking for can blinker them to what could actually enlarge the point of view. A simple way to open it up is to do image searches on topics of interest, narrow the search to contemporary art with your subject and see what current artists are trying to show about the world we all inhabit together. Seeing is the first beam of connection. The strength of the response is a measure of personal significance and an expansion of self-awareness.