When it goes public, a piece of art is owned by all, so to speak, and open to a myriad of interpretations. From that time forward it is objective and subjective both. The risk an artist takes is that he may value his work highly, but the public does not.
When a new movement in art comes along, it often is met with resistance and some ridicule. It asks the viewer to take a different path from the norm, and often, the viewer says, “You foolish artist, I know what good art is. You can't fool me! The tried and true is apparent to all, so why should I go down this suspicious path with you?” In modern times, this is what happened to the first impressionists, and much later, also the abstract expressionists. First ridicule and resistance, and then through persistence, passion and devotion, a warming occurred with people. In these cases, it took years along with the slow gaining of important allies in the art business, and then the public was swayed. Now there is adulation. Just look at Van Gogh's life.
The same happens in social movements such as women's suffrage, native people's rights, race equality etc. Also, the world's great religions were often met with fierce resistance when they first appeared.
As an example of how this type of art can evoke a wide range of subjective responses, I will tell of the interpretations from different people as they viewed my last piece. The main parts are: two dolls—one standing and one falling, a niche where one doll stands and one has fallen from, a window, an open book turned to a chapter titled, “On Love”, and a hand seeming to come from thin air and holding the book open.
A close friend of mine was the first to see it complete, and as we discussed it she formulated a story that the two dolls were actually the same person. She is both standing and also toppled over and entering the realm of the book; falling into the story of love while the Hand of God holds the book open.
Another person said that at first glance it made her feel like someone is trying to hold onto LOVE.
Someone else wrote on Facebook: “People told me to be 'perfect'. Perfect like a doll... Then, some people gave me books leading to imperfect worlds... I took your hand so that I could grow into something I would never have imagined...”
Another Facebook friend wrote: “This is a dream world, and perhaps it has a touch of adobe wall of Santa Fe and old walls of places you've traveled. There is hope and life coming through the top window, so close yet set apart from the innocent girl, the fairy tale girl, with the perfect outfit, part of whom has lost control and fallen,(or perhaps some inner part of the dream has fallen) almost, perhaps it will be a surprise to her, into a book, which seems to be orderly - can't see the title. She doesn't know it but part of her falls into some type of order that this hand, old as the wall, ancient like the soul, has touched. The figure at the top might be mourning for loss, while the hand feels the order of that book, not reading it or holding it, but feeling it. It is a left hand of the intuitive, inner self. Some dream perhaps fallen yet into a book. The hatted doll is in a bit of a precarious position but so close to the window of hope. Perhaps she represents external fantasies (letting go. Just a few thoughts. She is hatted like the men you painted, but here is a feminine aspect, perhaps an inner child waiting to be helped down or through that window. the book is quite balanced...I mean the two pages, like yin and yang. Perhaps the hand knows in this book is the balance. If I want to trip on it, it could be a person, with the doll at the head, the doll and the hand the arms and the book the feet. The head then would have part in life and hope and part in image, possibly fantasy or a young female sense, the hands part letting go and part holding on to the feet holding to balance, truth. But I wouldn't want to project onto it...(ha, ha, smile).”
And now, I confess that my original conception was for the two dolls to represent a sort of fate for two different people. One who would stand firm in life, bearing witness to the window of life and the Book of Love held by the hand of destiny (or God), and the other who falls.
I like all the descriptions and they all work! Art is objective and subjective. That is the fun.
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web. -Pablo Picasso