A Picture Says a Thousand Words

After my last post I've been thinking a lot about the communicative potential of art.

Anyone who's met me knows that verbal communication of any kind is not my forte. I would fall under the category of painfully shy/socially awkward. It's something that makes life quite difficult sometimes. I think I managed to make it through my entire schooling without ever voluntarily answering a question in front of the class (damn you for making me answer!) and at art school it only took two and half years to start talking to my peers...

That is partly one of the reasons I love art so much, it speaks for you and if you listen to it, you can learn so much about someone from it. If ever there are feelings that I don't know how to express to other people I can channel it into a piece of art. This I know is the same for a lot of artists (obviously not all but have had the conversation with a few people who make art), all of whom have said that being able to channel those thoughts that they would otherwise be stuck with into an artwork is an invaluable experience.

Think about it from this perspective as well, art is the only true universal language.

What is the first things baby's do when they pick something that can make a mark? They draw, well scribble, but getting into the nitty gritty of pre-schematic drawing isn't what I'm going for here! Before they can speak, before they can write, they draw.

We all drew when we were little, the problem is we start to doubt ourselves when our so called 'abilities' don't live up to both our own and the world's expectations. Most people will stop drawing because they think they're bad at it and lose and incredible outlet for both self expression and communication in the process.

Think again on doodling, if you've ever had a long conversation on the phone, chances are you end up doodling at some point. Or if you've sat in a long lecture and, instead of taking notes, decorated your page. You're translating your wandering thoughts into images.

And again, writing by hand in itself is a form of art. The way you link those lines together is a unique expression of who you are. Your signature, a little abstract seal. 

But to go back to the universal language, this really is why I love art so much. Never will you be able to learn every language, hell I'm struggling with 3 at the moment, but with art you speak all of them (Google says there are currently 6909 which is an impressive number so look at me putting that on my CV). I can make a piece that can be viewed by someone on the other side of the world who I would otherwise never be able to speak to (in both a shyness and linguistic sense) but suddenly you are connected. They are reading into the marks you have made, projecting their own experiences into that work and building upon what you've said to them with their own reading of the artwork. You have told them something without ever speaking.

At the end of the day the one thing that connects us all is the ability to feel, and art does that.

Last year I had a show where most of the pieces centred around grief. Nothing was figurative (although there were titles and a blurb so language was involved to some extent) but the thing I found most touching about the whole thing was people approaching me to share their own experiences. It triggered something in people; memories and feelings they wanted to share. That is an incredible thing, that art can spark that conversation in others.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, before we had language and writing systems we had art, and it has managed to endure because of this magical ability to bind us together. 



Liffey Joy