What’s In Your Interpretive Wallet?

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

 Marcus Aurelius Antonius

First, I apologize a teeny tiny bit for the F word above? Missed it? I’ll wait. (btw, notice the “teeny tiny bit”…)

OK…you got it? Good.

The point here, that I am trying to make is this: what YOU get out of art-any piece of art-is what you get out of it. It is your referencing that influences your point of view, your opinion. Sharing it with me, that is ok. Really. I know a few people who don’t believe me when I say that, but, again, that is their opinion and their POV.  I have no problem if you like something and I don’t, or visa versa. Tell me from your POV and don’t proselytize or push your opinion as the only correct opinion and we’ll be fine. Really.

Case in point: I am not a fan of Charles Ives music. The cacophony of sounds he produces gives me the heebie jeebies. In mentioning this to a musician a few years ago, she expressed the complete opposite feeling. In a very positive dialogue, she expressed how it felt to PLAY Charles Ives, what it meant to her, the challenge, the utter sense of beauty she felt in being part of the process, and more. I also wound up researching Ives a bit, reading about the man and how he crafted his music. I walked away with a different perspective. I may not dislike it as much as I had previously, but nothing would have changed if I wasn’t open to listening to a different POV than my own.

BTW, We were participants in an intensive two program about Aesthetics in Art with the Lincoln Center Institute.  Well worth doing for ANY educator, and I strongly suggest it for ANY person who is involved in creating curriculum policy for schools.

Everyone is of course free to interpret the work in his own way.  

I think seeing a picture is one thing and interpreting it is another.
Jasper Johns

For those not in the know, I write creative fiction on my other blog, Tale Spinning. I LOVE getting comments from people about the work, mostly on how they feel about it (good or bad). Telling me how I feel about it, or how they interpret my mood or character or circumstance…not so much. I also don’t like to really tell you, the reader, what I was feeling/thinking when I wrote what I did. Sometimes Stuart’s life bleeds into things here and there (write what you know), but most time it’s the creative imagination, the play with words, the feel of the language, that moves me along.

Your interpretation and feelings are just that: yours. Share it: I’ll be happy to hear it. I find it interesting to hear something resonated with a reader in a way I had not even thought of before. Yes, sometimes a blue curtain, If I were to write that, is nothing more than a blue curtain to me. It’s a descriptive word to give you a visual picture. Is there a deeper meaning? Could be, could not. Does the shade of blue mean anything more then painting a picture? “A rich velvety Sapphire Blue curtain…” is far different a picture than “the curtains were blue.” It still is up to you to decipher what it means to you and how it affects you.

It’s all good, too. Just don’t tell me there is only one answer. Don’t tell me you know what I meant, unless you’ve asked me and I’ve told you first. Silly, silly people, critics and teachers and those who like to argue for the sake of arguing and self importance.

OK…now I am in the mood to go to NYC and walk around The Met or the Frick, maybe MOMA. Anyone want to join me?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA@Cerebrations.biz
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 20:31:45

    Nah. This is a weekend for Phillies overload. Especially, after the holidays. We’ll see about next Sunday. (How’s that for a reaction? 🙂 )


  2. Sulekha Rawat
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 02:51:16

    I like your POV and am sharing my POV with you. Creativity knows no boundaries and one mustn’t try to limit it.


    • bornstoryteller
      Oct 02, 2011 @ 08:46:25

      Thank you Sulekha. I wrote this in part to a few people trying to PUSH their pov as the only right pov, as opposed to stating it as what they feel. That sends me into the “Oh Yeah?” mode.


  3. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 12:17:07

    Lovely POV. Of course, I often tell my daughter that “Mommy is always right”, but eventually I will allow her to have her own point of view. 😉 Only kidding. Great post. I would love to go the Met with you. I also want some purple curtains. What might that mean?


  4. Trackback: Discussion, Debate and Blogging Etiquette « Woman Wielding Words
  5. Denise Ahlquist
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 12:44:44

    I find it helpful to distinguish between interpreting (what I think the artwork means/ is doing/ saying) and evaluating the work (do I think it is beautiful/ good/ true). Many people confuse those two levels of thinking, but I find separating them really useful.

    If you think the cacophony of sounds in Ives’ music suggest chaos and a denial of the possibility of pattern and order, then you might not like it. If your friend hears the music as suggesting freedom and the possibility of creating anew, then it makes sense that she might like it. When people jump to evaluating too soon, they miss the variety of ways that they and others might interpret a work of art. Hearing others’ interpretations may lead one to a different evaluation of a work. Asking good interpretive questions and helping people distinguish and develop possible interpretations before they evaluate a work is one of the things I love about leading Great Books Shared Inquiry discussions with people of all ages.


    • bornstoryteller
      Oct 03, 2011 @ 15:11:25

      could not agree with you more. I learned SO much by talking with the musician. Different set of appreciations went on…still have to drag me to sit through a piece of his, but I have a greater understanding of it.


  6. Nadja Notariani
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 15:30:37

    I had to link back to this post. The pic had me in stitches. Love it. ~ Nadja


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