Monday, July 28, 2008

Art Blog: What Needs To Be Said?

As I grapple with my place as an artist, reexamine my past art life, and find direction for my future life and work, I am starting to see more clearly. There are moments when I feel like I shouldn’t make another work of art. We all have days like that. Today, I realized I HAVE to continue. I have to say the things that need to be said.
I was thinking about who is my audience? Obviously, I am the primary member and I sit in the front row, center. The other people watching my art can be put into various categories.

1. Some people don’t look at my art (or any art?) at all. They don’t find it familiar enough to give it a second look.
2. Others look, but without much effort. When I hear reactions like “Oh your work is so pretty or bright and colorful”, I realized I have failed with this group.
3. There are those who do look hard. Yet, their interpretations are far off the mark.
4. Once in a great while, I will get a critique from someone who really understands a particular piece. These people are very few and far between.

The first group are just not my people. That’s cool. The second group superficially scan the work and notice the colors. The interesting thing is most of my work is wildly colorful. They are right. However, my work is like poison candy. I use the colors of sweetness to draw you in, but if you get past that layer, there is usually some kind of social comment and often a biting message. The third group are the people I find intriguing. I don’t like artist statements. I never have. However for these people, I wish I could stand with them and explain what I am trying to say within a given piece. It is fine they have their own interpretations, but I want my intended message to be revealed too. It is likely, my thoughts on certain topics would turn some people off. That is OK. At least, I got them thinking. The fourth group are my patrons and I thank them wholeheartedly.

Most people don’t have a clue what my art is about and probably never will. Yet, the statements I make with my art aren’t so mysterious and simply reflect issues in our society. Case in point:

“Happy?” by Sheree Rensel
I have this painting as my background for my YouTube art channel profile. Last night, I was on Stickam and I watched as someone opened my channel page. Her face contorted and she said “Ughhhhh...that is too weird!” This painting isn’t weird at all. It shows a person in a party hat surrounded with confetti. Her mouth is covered so she can’t speak. The question “IS EVERYBODY HAPPY? surrounds her. I am asking that question. Are people of all races, nationalities, and statures in our world being treated equally and given the same opportunities to gain happiness? SIMPLE

“Universal Dump” by Sheree Rensel
This painting is about how humans keep polluting everything including space. SIMPLE

“The Greater of Two Evils” by Sheree Rensel
Abuse of woman and their decision to leave or stay. SIMPLE

“Emergency Room”, installation by Sheree Rensel
This installation is about the lack of quality health care in our country. I made this because for many years, my daughter and I had no health insurance. Do you know what it is like waiting for your turn at a free clinic in downtown Detroit? It isn’t much fun at all. SIMPLE
This is why my art is important. Someone has to say these things. I say them with my art.
I subscribe to a fun online service that sends you emails from the "Universe". After posting this post, I received this email:
The only way to get what you really want, is to know what you really want.
And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.
And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.
And the only way to be yourself, Wizzle, is to listen to your heart.
The Universe


Martha Marshall said...

Sheree, it's always inspiring to read your honest writings about what it really means to be an artist. This is a great post!

Your art does make important heartfelt statements, and it's true that most people think art is supposed to be only something to hang on the wall and, by the way, has to match the furniture. You aren't looking for a reaction from those people, because they will never see what you're saying.

Even with my abstracts that have no overt message, people often come through my home and never give them a second glance. I don't mind. I always know that there are others who appreciate it.

And the last part, your message from the Universe, is so perfect!

Sheree Rensel said...

First off, thank you so much for commenting. The past few weeks or so, I have felt like I am the only one reading my posts. It has been so quiet. I really appreciate your thoughts.
Second, I too think this is a good post. It is an honest post. In fact, the lack of comments gave me a kind of freedom to say whatever I wanted since I felt like I was the only reader.
I know what you mean about people who come to your home and don't "get it". It seems there is no grey area. The inside of my house looks like a museum. I have few visitors. However, those that enter either ignore everything or walk around with their mouth dragging on the floor (I like those people!!!) LOL LOL LOL LOL
Yes, that "universal" message came at just the perfect moment. It was so synchronistic, it made me laugh.

Mary Buek said...

I, too, love the message from the universe. It sounds simple, but it's not really.

Sheree Rensel said...

Mary, I like them too. However, sometimes they are written in such a weird way, I can't figure out what it means. I like them, short, sweet, and to the point.

RJ said...

I remember back in the 70s when I was living in NYC and playing music full-time; I was sitting in my apartment, showing my sketchbook to a friend. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip..... about one second per page. I thought, well, you can flip past my art, but when I plug in my guitar, turn the amp up to 10, and blast it in your face, you can't ignore that!

Music is a more powerful kinetic physical force that can't be denied. Ah... but it is ephemeral... once played, gone forever (unless it is recorded, of course). So many things I've played over the years that were NOT recorded... are those sound waves still moving out into outer space?

But art-- you can stick it under your bed and dig it out years later, and there it is! (I'm thinking about your pencil drawings in your next post.)

I have an oil painting by my grandfather, and one by my great-great grandfather-- they are both beautiful and I treasure them dearly. I like to think that someday my descendants will still have some of my art.

Geez, I got to rambling, just thoughts passing through my mind at one a.m.



Sheree Rensel said...

That is such an interesting analogy. I like the part about "where did the sound waves go?"
For some reason, this comment reminded me of something Joni Mitchell says on one of her live concert CDs. She is between songs and people are yelling "Play this!" "Play That!" She interrupts them and says "You know this is the difference between being a musician and a painter. You paint a painting and it is done. You can sell it or hang it on the wall, or let it sit in the studio. It is done and then you paint something different. Nobody said to Van Gogh, "Hey, paint Starry Night Again, Man!!" LOL LOL LOL

You are right though. Music does have more of an immediate impact. However, I am glad I am a "lonely painter and live in a box of paints".

RJ said...

Your reference to Joni Mitchell is great! Here's one that's popular if you're ever playing a gig at a biker party (not one of my favorite kinds of gigs!):


For your readers that don't know me-- although I still play some gigs, I have been working as an illustrator/art teacher for 27 years, so you can see where I have chosen to hang my hat.


Sheree Rensel said...

I have actually heard both of those rock mantras being yelled at clubs or blues festivals. Now here is one that will cause someone to throw a beer over your head:



RJ said...


You just hit a home run!

L - O - L ! ! ! !