I've spent a lot of time in public art galleries observing the visitors as well as the art.
And as a professional artist, I am forever fielding questions from people about the meaning of this or that work of art. What was this artist trying to say? What is that work about?
My response is always the same: What does it mean to you?
I can't count the number of times I've heard people questioning their own interpretations of an artwork.
They're somehow afraid that the very nature of how they react to the work, what they think or feel in response to the work will inevitably be deemed fundamentally wrong because they were not the creator of said work.
What has caused this?
For me, as an artist, each creation is a gift to the world. How the world responds to the work is the gift I receive in return.
It really doesn't matter what I may have been thinking or aiming to express. If the viewer is moved, the viewer is moved. Someone might see something completely different from what I had in mind. If I am lucky enough to hear what they think, I may then see or learn something entirely new as well.
It doesn't matter if you love or hate a work, if you react to the work then it has done its job. It is successful — as far as its relation to you is concerned. Someone else may or may not be moved at all. Each of us is different.
What an interesting combination, I thought!
I asked the group what this could signify and how they reacted to it.
One participant spoke of being abused by his father and feeling continually invalidated.
He said the combination of the fake bear wrapped in real fox fur spoke to him of the need to wear designer labels because this gave him a greater sense of self.
Others spoke about the challenge between showing the inner self and the socially acceptable personality. The struggle to be real.
The insights this group shared were really impressive.
Each interpretation was beautiful and powerful.
I wish everyone would believe that what you see and how you interpret what you see is exactly as it should be right now. For you, you are right. You're the one looking. You're who matters right now.
Your interpretation may change when you are ready to shift or alter your perspective, but for now, to start with: listen to your own reaction.
Pay attention to what you are feeling and believing. From there you can become conscious of the choices available to you.
This is the essence of Parallel Lines.