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Lesson Plans

Meaning in art debate

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Jim Foerch (alrai)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 11:13:16 -0700

At 10:46 PM 7/27/96, you wrote:
>One can find meaning in a work of art even if the artist acknowledges that
>he/she had no intended meaning.

Dear Ms Opila,
I can't support your negative side of your debate, but will share a
powerful positive arguments so you may devise counterargument with which to
humiliate and destroy your opponents.

The joy of experiencing art is that the viewer may always create her own
mean for the piece because humans are categorically free to make up our own
minds. Furthermore, brain research shows that first and foremost, humans
create meaning for any set of sensory inputs. Some examples: I have never
read a lick about Jackson Pollock. As an individual, he is totally unknown
to me. And yet I enjoy rapping with friends about the frenetic ennui
expressed in his paintings, or how the paint spatters reflect the randomness
within larger patterns within randomness of the distribution of galaxies in
our universe. I'd be willing to bet 10 Canadian loonies that such
interpretations never cluttered Mr. Pollock's mind as he painted 40 years ago.
I visited the Colorado and Canadian Rockies last month. Seeing the
mountains, hiking the trails, holding the rocks in my hand, panting the
thinned air of 12000 feet had vast, deep and great meaning for me. And yet
(excusing the religious dimension for a moment) there was absolutely no
conscious, artistic or creative intent in the tectonic orogenesis of those
magnificent mountains.

Best of luck in your debate. I pray you don't get backed into the corner of
"correct" canonical interpretation of objet d'art.

Jim Foerch
Banjo, math & science teacher at
Pine Street Creative Arts Alternative School,
Grand Rapids, Michigan