This blog was inspired by a high school art project. My finished piece, which I named Mind of Me, resulted in a few unexpected awards at the District Art Show that same year. It has since hung in my place of residence for the last 10 years.
The long wavy pices of grass were cut from a magazine; the picture was actually of a stack of towels in various shades of green, promoting Tide laundry detergent. The photo of the little girl in the middle is of me when I was 4. It may be difficult to tell what all is happening in the picture. Basically, nothing in the picture makes sense in it's surroundings, yet somehow it fits together. My goal with this picture was to pour out my soul, to get 17 years worth of thoughts out of my head, and to make people think.
I felt my first sense of pride toward this project when a classmate of mine, Garrett came over to look at the progress. Garrett looking at my artwork always made me nervous because he was, and still is, an exceptional artist. Freakishly exceptional. I was ready to defend it but then he looked up at me, back at the picture and said, "This is deep. Tells me a lot about you." And then he walked away.
I fell in love with the picture when, at the District Art Show, I overheard a group of students from another high school talking about it. "She's underwater. I think she feels like she and everything she loves is drowning." "No, she's definitely not underwater...see? There's sky behind her." "Then explain the fish swimming around her!" "I think she was high when she made it. It's like Alice in Wonderland stuff...." "I think it's a really happy picture. She's just chillin'" and finally, "It's really sad. I don't know why, but it is. Nothing makes sense."
The group walked away leaving one girl behind. She had yet to say anything but I watched her from behind anyway. I saw her hand reach up and feel the texture of the crayon background, trace the flowers and mountains....and then she started crying. I was shocked and a little uncomfortable. One of her friend's came back to see what was going on. She composed herself and said, "It's her mind. It's her world and where she goes, in her head, to make sense of it all. THAT, " she pointed back at the picture as she walked away, "is how I feel. Like I'm alone with all my thoughts surrounding me."
Everyone was right about the picture and everyone was wrong. It meant something different to everyone and caused emotion, which to me means it was successful.
I won't spell out exactly what it means to me or what each part of it represents, but I will say that overall it represents a time in my life when I was trapped but was about to be freed. It represents reality more than it does confusion or insanity because ultimately it is reality that is the most confusing and contradictory. Rules are broken, constants change, and the unexpected happens. Nothing is ever really as it seems but everything fits together.
A new found friend of mine came over a week or so ago and saw the picture hanging in my kitchen. It had been a while since anyone new had seen it. I pretended not to notice him looking at it but waited impatiently for him to give some kind of feedback. "Huh." Silence. "This is cool. It seems complicated, but even the parts of it that don't make sense seem natural, you know?" Mmmm hmm. He looked closer. "I like that you didn't hide any flaws, like this obvious crease in the page you used for part of the desert scenery....and that it's not perfect, but it looks good....you know, it's balanced somehow. Anyway, it tells me a lot about you."
He shrugged and I smiled. Exactly.