a thought {on uncomfortable art}

Driving home last night, I heard a story on the news about a young high school student’s mural of two men kissing that was censored by her school’s administration because it made some of the students and some in the community “uncomfortable”. I had a flash back to the many discussions I had with my own high school’s administration regarding the importance of self-expression. I am not interested on commenting on LGBT issues or appropriate subject matter for high schools. I am interested in that word “uncomfortable”.

I don’t think we are meant to be comfortable all the time. Not in day to day life. Not in love. And not in art. If we were comfortable, we would never ask why? or how? or what if? If we were comfortable we would never reach higher or dig deeper.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” {Edgar Degas}

Art is a reflection. And just like any reflection, what we each see in that reflection is different.


{The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali}

I don’t like everything I see or hear. Case in point: the television series True Blood. More cases in point: the painting The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, the fiction of Michael Ondaatje (I do like some of his poetry), and most recently, The Lego Movie. But I know that there are people out there who love The Persistence of Memory, or at least love it enough to have it printed on their coffee mug. And dang, people love LOVE The Lego Movie. (My kids included.)

When we see or hear something we don’t like, it could be an opportunity to grow. We could ask ourselves what is it that is making us feel uncomfortable. We could begin a discourse. Or, you could also decide that you are just not into that movie and change the channel.

“The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ” {Banksy}


2 thoughts on “a thought {on uncomfortable art}

  1. I feel uncomfortable reading stories by Flannery O’Connor, and other authors like her. And yet, I know they are classics. They have a point, and it’s usually a good one that I should take to heart. I don’t read her stories too often, but I don’t really forget them, either.

    As for art, Frida Kahlo’s paintings make me uncomfortable. It’s that pride, and that uni-brow. It makes me want to look away at the same time making me stare at it longer.

    • Slingshots and Arrows says:

      Thank you for sharing Amy. It is like a confessional, huh? Admitting you don’t like or love something everyone else does. Or admitting something makes you uncomfortable. But I love that vulnerability in admitting discomfort. And how lucky we are that there are works of art that make us feel that way.

      I have’t read any Flannery O’Connor but you now have me curious. 🙂

      I do love Frida’s rawness and vulnerability and her embracing of the unibrow. But agree there is a discomfort there too – especially “Henry Ford Hospital” and “Atomic” – because I am not great with surgical images.

      Thanks again for sharing Amy.

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