Friday, February 7, 2014

Freedom to embrace imperfection

This is the painting I put on the postcard I sent out to announce tonight's opening of my new exhibit, in the lobby of our local performing arts center. 

Tonight's also the official opening for our annual One-Act Festival, but there's always a pay-what-you-can preview on the Thursday before, so, since I have several friends in the production, I decided to attend last night -- which meant I got a sneak preview of reactions to my paintings as well.

It was pretty amusing, actually... there was a young girl there, one I've acted with in several plays, who loved the paintings and was quite effusive about them.  "They look like they're something, only they're not!" she said, "I LOVE that!"

Several adults in the room were somewhat less enthusiastic; it was a bit awkward watching them struggle for something nice to say.  I wanted to say, "It's okay if you don't like my paintings -- I totally get that this style is not for everyone!" and that I wouldn't take the rejection personally.  My favorite compromise statement was that it looked like I'd had fun throwing paint at the canvas. "Are there actually any brush strokes here?" said another.  And then there were the folks who couldn't quite look me in the eye, and I found myself wondering, "Do I look too hopeful?"

How can I communicate this -- that I feel so differently about this exhibit than I have about showing my photos in the past; that I don't need people to love the paintings, I just wanted to share the exuberant spirit that flows through them?  When I confessed to the little girl that I'd only been painting for a year, I could see her eyes light up: the thought that paintings don't have to look like something was clearly every bit as freeing for her as it has been for me.  So maybe that's the point of the exhibit: maybe it will help free others to play, to explore, and to embrace imperfection...

No comments: