Lately it’s become very difficult to breathe in the space where many folks seem to think that everything must be polarized. You are either THIS or THAT. There is no in-between.
I’m going to come right out and say that’s a bunch of bullshit.
Yes, I said it. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m just as entitled not to share it. And that doesn’t make you wrong and me right. Let’s agree to disagree, remain civil, and compromise on the important issues. Without middle ground, we’re never going to move on and make the world a better place.
That said, let’s talk about one of the elephants in the room that sometimes causes people difficulty. Interpreting art.
Wait, what? How did we go from polarized opinions to art?
Art, in my opinion, is essentially a product. It exists in a particular moment of time, created by one or more individuals, and captured in a particular medium. A painting. A performance. A story. Whatever it is, the artist creates a single thing for one audience or a million audiences.
So let me clear this up. If I like your art, I’m going to say so. If I don’t like your art, I may not say so unless I feel strongly enough about it to say so.
But I don’t care if you (the artist) are black, white, or brown. I don’t care if you (the artist) are Christian, Islamic, Agnostic, Atheistic, or worship the Great Spaghetti Monster. I don’t care if you (the artist) are gay, straight, or asexual. I don’t care if you (the artist) are a native, an import, or an alien from another world.
Your art stands alone. And I may like one piece, but not another. That’s the great thing about art. We all come to it with our own baggage as an audience. No two people have the same experience with art. You and I may both like a piece for wildly different reasons.
And that’s AWESOME. Check out this quote from Selma Hayek:
I don’t expect you to share my opinion on a particular movie, book, song, image, or whatever. I would encourage you to share your own opinions. Let’s compare notes. Maybe I’ll come to see things your way.
After all, I am entitled to my opinion, but that doesn’t make me right. It may be right for me at this moment in time where I am in my own personal journey. That doesn’t mean that my opinion can’t change with further reflection, experience, and discussion.
But here’s the thing. If I like your art, it doesn’t mean that I automatically like you (the artist). And vice versa if I don’t like your art, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. Like most things in life, it’s not that cut and dried. Context matters.
So… as I say in the title for this post. Art is art. People are people.
And opinions are opinions. Everyone has one.
In the end, all we can hope for is respect. Respect the art. Respect the artist. And respect the audience. The only part of that equation that doesn’t have an opinion of its own is the art. It simply is.
But remember that I can respectfully disagree and that is not a bad thing. It’s a conversation starter. We may agree to disagree at the end of that discussion, but I hope that we respect one another regardless of whether either of us changed our opinion.
We all can get along with respect. I’m convinced of that. I have hope that you do too.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the art. 🙂