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Artistically, I’m a bad postmodernist: I’ve never been able to look at a painting of a potato and discern the meaning of life hidden within its brushstrokes. Somehow, though, I found myself inside the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art, surrounded by a mass of self-proclaimed, blazer-clad connoisseurs conversing about the deeper meaning of Barnett Newman’s The Voice. As I stood there with Newman’s giant white canvas, staring me in the face while the never ending stream of the artists’ unfamiliar jargon clouded my thoughts, I began to wonder if I was missing something. What were these people seeing that I wasn’t? How were they getting “critical examination of society’s effort to silence its inhabitants” out of this seemingly empty work of “art” when all that I was capable of producing was “maybe he named it The Voice to be ironic.”
Suddenly, I was back in my fourth grade art class with Ms. McClaire watching me as I carefully applied the finishing touches to my painting of a french horn. “Why is it purple?” she asked. I replied without hesitation, “Because it’s my favorite color.” That’s when she said something I had forgotten until that moment, “Some people don’t always know why artists do things, but as long as you understand your work, then it is art.” No, the importance of creating art is not to appeal to the critics, but to set down an avenue of personal expression. Whether the artist is an avant-garde Parisian painter or a four year-old preschooler is ultimately insignificant; successful art should evoke meaning to its creator, even if others do not recognize it.
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