Trigger Me, Hurt Me, Set Me Free: A Blog Post about Art

challenge me, insult me, inspire me, make me laugh & cry, trigger me, hurt me, anger me, set me free.
The following blog entry consists of my opinions. These are not meant to be considered facts. If you have a differing viewpoint, I’d love to hear it. We can have different opinions and still be respectful of one another. If a dialogue ever turns into ad hominem attacks or uncivilized arguments, regardless of the topic, I will shut down the conversation, regardless of my personal views.

Art is meant to be provocative. It’s meant to incite a reaction and elicit a response. It’s not meant to be quiet and small. Art should be revolutionary and make a statement.

“I truly think art should challenge a viewer and not merely placate them. Art should be a means of abandoning the mundane.” Isabelle Palerma, Author and Artist

I feel like, with art, it might be worth noting two different directions that an artist can go in. Stealing terminology from the writing world, one can have commercial/genre art or literary art; rarely would the two intermingle, but if there is such a case, perhaps that would be deemed like it is in fiction, upmarket work. Commercial/genre art would be the type of art that has more mass appeal, things like traditional landscapes or portraits, still lives, simple yet beautiful works that don’t stir up controversial feelings. Maybe commercial/genre art would be things that are mass-printed and found in people’s homes.

Isn’t that the point of art? To stop you in your tracks, to affect your way of thinking?

But to me, literary art would be the types of paintings that really make people question what the nature of art is: whether that’s Dadaism or Surrealism, whether it’s a color field painting or something more outlandish. And maybe this is something that has already been bandied about by art historians or art experts, but to me, art is truly the best form of the word when it stirs up strong emotions. Art can truly makes you stop in your tracks and maybe it feels a little gritty or perhaps, like Dr. Maggie G. said in her Tweet, it might “challenge me, inspire me, trigger me,” but isn’t that the point of art? To stop you in your tracks, to affect your way of thinking? I don’t feel a success as an artist if a viewer feels satiated looking at my painting; if it doesn’t leave their blood boiling and their passions running hot, then, I feel like perhaps I haven’t done my work as an artist. Yes, perhaps, it makes a person feel less alone or understood. Maybe it makes them feel seen, but it should never create a sense of complacency.

I love when my art is open to interpretation: when one person is absolutely convinced they see one thing in something I painted, but someone else sees something completely different. I was commissioned to make a painting a few years ago that were in shades of blue, grays, and white. I did an abstract painting that I viewed horizontally and perhaps because of the way I was looking at it, I saw a tranquil (yet very abstract) body of water. When the person who purchased the piece saw it, she promptly rotated it to be a vertical painting and saw it as two women conversing.

Not that art has to be enigmatic and keep secrets from the viewer, but I truly think art should challenge a viewer and not merely placate them. Art should be a means of abandoning the mundane. As Anaïs Nin said, “I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” To me, that is what art is, or should strive to be. An unbound thing that frees mortals from the restraints of this world and awakens the strongest of emotions.

The American actress Stella Adler said, “Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” I think in an ideal world, art should not focus on the mundane, but it should rather polarize you and elicit reactions like the ones Dr. Maggie G. describes.

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