Art and Self Expression

Sacred Sisterhood of Wonderful Wacky Women

Sometimes I wonder why people buy one artwork over another.

Does it represent where you are in your life or where you want to be? Is it the design and the colors? Is it fashionable or trendy? Does it draw you in for reasons you can’t explain?

Every person has many reasons behind decisions as intimate as the selection of art. Yes, intimate. Think about it. Artwork is placed in prominent locations within a person’s inner sanctum. The bedroom, the living room, even the front yard are your own domain. They are both private locations and semi-public representations of who and what you are.

Placing something over the living room couch means putting it on frequent display. It is something you view, repeatedly, every day of your life, for as long as the artwork remains. That’s significant.

All human beings instinctively recognize that frequency of viewing equates importance and will respond accordingly. Those reactions may range from shock to admiration, depending upon the artwork and each individual’s own interpretation of it.

Artwork has meaning. Significant meaning that extends far beyond anything the artist attempted or intended. Which brings me back to my original question – why choose artwork A over artwork B?

I’ve posted things to the Wild Raccoon Market that inspire this line of inquisition. The very purple (and simply wonderful) Sacred Sisterhood of Wonderful Wacky Women is one such item. This is something that could either represent the wacky women in my life (past and present) or the wonderful women I wish were in my life (present and future). Hanging this image could say “this is who I am and I proudly recognize that fact.” Alternatively, it could say “this is who I wish to be, and I am working to create that reality.”

Waiting For Signs

Another image inspiring inquiry into the purchaser’s intent is the striking and almost mesmerizing Waiting for Signs. This print contains the following text:

“I used to wait for a sign, she said, before I did anything. Then one night I had a dream & an angel in black tights came to me & said, you can start any time now, & then I asked is this a sign? & the angel started laughing & I woke up. Now, I think the whole world is filled with signs, but if there’s no laughter, I know they’re not for me.”

Since this is currently hanging over the top of my desk (waiting for it’s new home), does that mean I am recognizing that my life has begun and waiting-for-signs has ended? Or, does it stand as a reminder that action must be taken each and every day, signs not-with-standing. Is it an acknowledgement of what is, or inspiration for what should be?

I suspect most people spend very little time mulling over these sorts of questions when selecting artwork for their home or office. It’s a pity, really, because this sort of digging has a way of turning up nuggets of potential for a conversational goldmine.

In my opinion.

Take it for what you will.

Fine Art vs Folk Art

The following is an expression of my own opinions about art. It is the reason why so many of the items posted to the Wild Raccoon Market are folk art. It is not an official definition of art forms. I am not an academically trained artist or curator. I am not an expert. Take it for what you will.

3/27/2022 Edit: This image is a photo taken at a nature preserve during the winter of 2021 The quote is pulled from the following post.

Fine Art vs Folk Art

Fine art lives behind locked doors. It is protected by security guards; secured by top-of-the-line electronics; properly insured and never, ever, touched.

Folk art lives in the doors themselves. It is the welcome sign hanging off to the side; the stern metal lion doorknocker; the door handle with fancy swirly designs made shiny and flat from many years of use.

Fine art stands inside the immaculate gardens of important places. It holds the weight of definition, the scales of elegance, in appropriately frozen poses. It is in the statues so imprinted with the weight of history and quality and prestige that no one dares mention the missing hands, arms and heads. Fine art does not change. It is there, holding its ground, for centuries of time.

Folk art stands in the shaggy gardens of common places. It holds the responsibilities of everyday priorities. In spring it is painted onto tall, almost straight, discarded things, carefully marking sections of newly planted corn, peas and carrots. In summer it is the festive flags fluttering in the wind and the garden gnomes dancing with the rain. In fall it is carved out of pumpkins, stuffed into a scarecrow’s clothes and sewn into homemade costumes. In winter, it is made of snow, rolled into balls and decorated with old clothes, discarded vegetables and food coloring.

Fine art is a painting with a carefully constructed metal plaque describing who, what, when and why. It is the visual representation of those things we should know and must appreciate.

Folk art is a dusty sidenote displayed in a dim room off a long hallway. It stands together in a case filled with its sisters, brothers and cousins; all sharing a single plaque between them. It is the primitive and traditional and crafts and handiwork selected from the sea of un-importance to stand forever within the reflected light of prestige. It is a comparison, a point of not-fine deemed fine-enough to illustrate what is truly fine. It is token.

Fine art is the very expensive and oh-so-proper painting hanging in the receiving room of an everyday home. The receiving room – the one room that is only entered when important, judgmental or stiff-necked folk come to call. It is precise, proper, dust-free and cold.

Folk art is the colorful, comfortable, painting hanging over the living room couch. It is the fairy swinging from the kitchen window. It is the candy dish that has been re-glued many times over because it was made by grandma and, therefore, comes out every holiday – just like grandma used to do.

Fine art is sold at high-profile auctions by white-gloved attendants. It is purchased by straight-backed collectors in designer suits who seriously participate in the investment driven bidding war.

Folk art is sold at community fundraisers by everyday artists wearing jeans and t-shirts. It is purchased by neighbors, who make selections while munching on homemade cookies and chatting about local events.

Fine art is the tapestry hanging on a castle wall.

Folk art is the quilt covering a child’s bed.

Fine art transforms a building into a museum. It takes a historic location and places the title of ‘curated’ upon it’s now-glorified head.

Folk art enters a place, warms the colors, softens the edges, and plays in the yard. It is the tipping point, the key element transforming a house into a home.

EDIT: For context and background information that explains what inspired this blog entry and what this perspective is based on, please review the Wild Raccoon Market entries posted to this blog.