Good Bad/Bad Good


So how is it that a work of art results from an urge to make things?  The mechanics are as follows for sculpture; wire, clay, rubber mold, wax, and metal. These are linear sequential steps. Foot fall by foot fall until the end result. But then, how do I accept that an idea can manifest itself in a substantive three-dimensional version that’s sitting before me on a table? Is it real? In how real? Does it reach the critical mean of life, it breathes, its true to the subjects absolutes of form and function? Is it merely a visual copy of life, like a photograph illustrating the make and model of a certain animal? Is it an illustration of life? And if it meets that criteria, does it go further and pass muster as supreme reality; its lives and breathes as a substitute for the actual animal facing me at that moment? Seeing and accepting reality, sifting through my artist’s eye while attempting to reproduce life into an artwork. Does it come full circle? Does this mean its art, this illustrative rendition in clay or wax?

When I was going though college in my 20’s I thought the main goal of an artist was to reproduce what I saw onto paper or clay. When I look back on this, I think I was very wet behind the ears, fresh out of the box. I didn’t understand what art could be more than only what it was if it appeared to mimic reality. How wrong I was but you couldn’t convince me otherwise during this wet behind the ears period in my life. This was my Andy Warhol period when as art students we were painting giant products, mine were matchbooks picked up from a Papagallo’s shoe store in Broad Ripple, Indiana. I later began to understand what other artists had learned through observation and subsequent experimentation to find more than just the obvious. Example; Pollock and Picasso.

So, as I’ve taken this journey I’ve found it difficult to accept an up or down critical review of art. My art or somebody else’s art. It’s bad, it’s good? So what is it, good bad, bad good? Even a no response is a response; it doesn’t move me, does my reptilian brain respond to it, does it strike me in my heart, or makes me swoon with the beauty of its expression, or does it make me feel ill at the threat of what it can mean as it sucks the air out of the room and stops me dead in my tracks as I’m unable to commit to it one way or the other. Good or bad. Up or down, right or wrong. Who determines this I ask? What is art? Is it an essential truth? Is truth totally irrelevant to art? Or just copying nature?