Exploring Art . . . The All Important Why Of It

Has a piece of art ever stopped you in your tracks and made your heart skip a beat?  I remember this happening to me as a young girl, while staring (for what seemed like hours) at an abstract painting my Dad had created.  Looking back, I think that’s when I started to realize the power of art…when I realized it could tell a story, transport me and alter my mood.

I learned in college that it’s not for us to say whether a particular artwork is good or bad.  We can only say that we like it, or we don’t like it and why.  It’s the “why” that’s the interesting part.  Is it the subject that we’re drawn to?  The colors?  The style?  What is it that makes us fall in love with a piece of art?

The sensitivity of Renoir’s dreamlike brush strokes captured my gaze the first time I stood in front of his giant original, Nude in the Sunlight.  My eyes filled with tears as I tried to imagine this man who could recreate such feminine beauty on canvas.  There was this intimacy about the painting that made me want to curl up and take a nap under it–only to wake in awe of her once more.

What was this thing that had been stirred up inside of me?  Even now, I struggle to wrap my mind completely around it. Time and time again art has stopped me in my tracks as I fall head over heels for the work of many different artists.  I think art uncovers layers of ourselves we’ve long since forgotten, or we haven’t yet discovered–and I think that’s what we respond to.

So, the next time you find yourself moved by a particular artist or work of art, ask yourself, “why?”  Explore the answers that arise–especially the ones that bring up even more questions.    Whether you’ve had a long relationship with art, or one that’s just beginning, it’s these questions that help us understand ourselves (and the art) in a deeper way. Allow yourself to go on that journey of discovery and remember: the destination is rarely as important as the path we take to get there.


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