Once I outgrew the age during which everyone praised me for coloring within the lines, I quickly realized not everyone loves what I do. This was odd to me of course at the time. Maybe I just need to explain it. Maybe I just need to tell them the story. Maybe I just need to force them to stare at it until they like it.
But before I got to test that last one, I realized that this is natural and it’s the same reason I don’t like all foods, or all sports, or all books. This in turn, this made me appreciate those who support me all the more. I always enjoy watching others respond to my work. Not to make them uncomfortable, which happens anyway, but because I love to see the different types of reactions I get. Of course there’s a reaction that I hope for, but the beauty of it is that it doesn’t happen every time, and when it does, it’s great :) I usually don’t get it from my family or close friends who view my work through a slightly biased perspective, but rather people who simply connect with my work, for one reason or another. In the past, they have been extremely supportive and helpful past and present professors, peers who invite me to talk about what I’m doing, those friends I don’t talk to very often but who end up commenting on the new work I post every single time and strangers who ask me endless (and much appreciated) questions. One of the most enjoyable things for me to watch, is when people flip through my books. If they take the time to look at every page, I know I did something right to hold their attention for that long :)
One of the best reactions I got was, surprisingly, from a kid. Now, usually, kids running around and touching my work makes me extremely nervous and jumpy. I once had a young child playing with the gum he was chewing while hanging out around my paper works. I’m pretty sure I held my breath until his parents gathered him up and let him out of the room. But this little girl, who must have been 8 or 9, was the perfect viewer and did exactly what I intended my viewer to do. Maybe it was because she had not yet been scarred by the beeping that alerts the whole gallery that you’ve gotten much too close to the artwork, or maybe she has yet to have seen the inflated price tags on so many pieces, but for some reason, she didn’t see an object that was meant to be viewed from afar, but rather an object to interact with. She flipped the pages trying to figure out the content, something she was too young to know about, went back and forth searching for connections, touched the textures, attempted to decipher the text and I was in heaven. While most of us, myself included, assume that it is not ok to run your hand through the work, touching the paint, the paper, the glue, she assumed that’s what she was meant to do, and this made me so happy.
This post was supposed to be about how I deal with rejection in my life (from a curator or director, not personal rejection–I’ll save that for another blog) but accidentally turned into a post about how happy it makes me when viewers embrace and understand what I do. Both are true, but turns out one is more enjoyable to write about!