How I started enjoying art

Art is great because it’s accessible by nature. You can literally just look at it and see whatever it is. It’s easier to grasp than literature, which can sometimes require you to know certain vocabulary and also require more time/some patience. 

I hate how many things have become so “intellectualized.” A big part of the reason I didn’t like art when I was younger was because of my English classes in middle and high school. They were pretty bad at encouraging you to come up with your own opinions. I remember I once turned in a quiz (on something related to Egyptian mythology) in 10th grade English, and I got pissed because I got marked off for a “defend your answer”- type question. When I asked the teacher why my answer was wrong, she essentially gave me a “because I said so” response. There were many instances of teachers saying “as long as you provide compelling supporting evidence, I’ll accept it,” but not following through. I think this contributed to me internalizing a narrative of me not being able to form my own opinions on things that require interpretation. Standardized testing probably didn’t help with that either.

A big realization that helped me let go of that narrative is that the intention of the creator can be completely different from what you actually get from a work. You don’t have to read into all the symbolism and the inspiration from other artworks and the context of the piece within the movement. (If you do want to learn about those though, audio guides have been serving me pretty well.) I think all that should matter is what you want to get from that piece. In particular, how does it make you feel? 

One of the things I’ve begun to really appreciate about art is how it can serve as a shot of feeling. That’s why well designed monuments are so powerful, and I think it’s great that monuments are usually designed to be quite accessible. However, you can experience other art that way if you change your mental frame to “what can I get from this?” And pssst – you can get nothing and just walk away.

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