Why is art supposed to move and inspire us? Art is found in ancient caves and under incredible security in multimillion dollar buildings in Paris, New York City, Florence and Rome and hundreds of other cities. How is it that we found some items to be particularly moving and important or of any value? Why do we need someone to tell us what art is suppose to be? Does saying something is priceless really make it priceless? Why do we favor one work of art by the same artist over another? Why does one medium thrill us and another bore us? I’ve seen the Mona Lisa, and I was not impressed; not with the painting itself, although other works of art have moved me more, but with the atmosphere of her location. Under this thick case, with soft lighting and a line in front of it that you cannot cross, all you can see is her smirk and sparkling eyes. Then you hear twelve different languages around you all trying to decipher what she is all about. As you make your way through the touristy crowd to get a better view, someone taller comes along and stands dead center in your view. Honestly, I’d rather stand in a cave looking at a simpler painting that is a thousand years old rendering an outline of a human form created by human hands.
I love art and I am completely fascinated by the known and unknown creators, the mediums they used to create and the history behind their pieces. Egyptian wigs, chairs and toys can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and considered art because of the intricacies that embodies them. It is amazing when you start to think about the anonymous person who wove these tiny braids for a wig and the unrecognized painter who painted bright colors for toys. And then seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence, I had no idea from photographs that this sculpture was more than life size and just as beautiful as you hoped it would be in person. So here, we have the unknown artists and Michelangelo. We all know Michelangelo to be an eccentric and incredibly talented in many ways, but does knowing this makes his work more inspiring to the human soul than an unknown? Why do we have a need to analyze art all the time rather than just letting it automatically overwhelm the spirit and bring us to an emotion we didn’t have before we saw the piece?
When I see something that makes me want to pick up my camera and photograph it, what motivated me to do so? Did something truly inspire me or did it all just “click”? I’ve never had the nerve to have a gallery show because I couldn’t bear the thought of being criticized, and most importantly I couldn’t stand to hear people say, “I wonder what on earth possessed her to take that image?” In all honesty, I really don’t know the answer to my question. For the most part, I just see something and feel the desire to pick up the camera and capture it. Perhaps I look where others may not, but that is just being observant. That “take a breath and stop moment” happens often than we think in our busy lives. Many people don’t just stop to smell the freaking roses and are missing out on moments that could inspire them in some way if, they just stopped to notice.
When I was walking around Paris on a very wet, dreary day, I saw the leaves just lying sporadically below my feet and could see the texture of their crackly, dry forms lying on a wet, cold surface next to a dark stone wall. The combination of textures and lights and darks and reflection were just fascinating. Honestly, I didn’t know how the photo would turn out but I had that ‘Ahh’ moment and knelt down and took a few photographs. I wasn’t looking for the moment, it just came upon me and I was able to just stop and let it inspire me.
As I look at the image that inspired me, I can remember the exact day and the mood I was in. I had feelings of loneliness and sadness with a sudden desire to hold the hand of almost anyone. I felt as if this sadness would go on forever, and that there was no one to see and understand what I was experiencing. Did my feelings set the mood which, inspired the image or did the image I see at the time, a photograph in my head, inspire my feelings?
Perhaps art exists so that we can be inspired to think and feel and question and know that there is no right answer. While we may not have the time to look for ourselves as to what can inspire us on a daily basis, thankfully, there are people who take the time to interpret and show us what should be seen and appreciated.
I think it is wonderful to travel around the world and fight crowds to discover art we hadn’t seen before, especially when the art itself was created in a quiet moment, in a quiet place, by a single person who found the vision to create. Maybe it is just like the inspiration to create a small piece of the human form by placing a hand on a wall and outlining the human touch.