A couple of months ago I received a negative comment about one of my collages on Etsy- the website where I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, have an online shop. I was shocked, yet (and yes I do think this makes sense) not surprised, considering the collage the person was offended by. I'll show you the collage (entitled "Bathtub Arab", made some 10 years ago or so), then the comment.
This has got to be by far the most repulsive thing I have ever seen here on Etsy. If art is an expression of our inner selves and our understanding of our world, then your so called "art" stands as a testament of your infinitely shallow reservoir of wit and intellect.
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Nice of them to add the "good day".
I'm curious about this, and I welcome comments about it (whether on the blog or on facebook). I'm not asking for comments on the artistic merit of the collage, but rather on the fact that this particular viewer seemed to assume that there was some "meaning" or ill intent on my part. Or maybe they simply thought that regardless of my intention, it was ill-advised to display this collage.
For the record, here's how I produce my collages: I sift through my reams of torn paper/old magazines/old books/what-have-you, until I find a combination of images that either amuses me or that I think looks cool in some way. In the case of this collage, the figure hails from a Jehovah's Witness tract. The curtains, bath-tub, and rug come from an illustrated children's book, probably from the 60's. The sky and floor are from a glossy magazine, as is the wallpaper (if memory serves). It looks like I must have put sparkles on his robe.
By fiddling about with various combinations of images on my table I would have eventually discovered that this figure more or less fit inside this bath-tub, with his hand resting on the edge. While I would have had many different possible variations half-decided, this "fitting-together" would have won me over and I'd have started finding other elements that fit in order to complete the collage. They only "fit" because in my mind they fit. I must have started finding pink things that fit, so I went with that.
There is no meaning. Or at least, not for me. There is just the by-product of me having fun and putting things together the way only I will, and take from it what you will. Or don't. I definitely don't think I should refrain from making or showing a collage like this, just in case someone takes offence. And I'm not sure that my art is "an expression of my inner self and my understanding of my world", as the disgruntled viewer assumes. I think this is what intrigues me about the whole thing- that you can't know what the artist intended, or what it means for them. You don't have to like it, but your reaction might have more to do with you than it does with the artist.