"But, what does it mean?" As a surrealist illustrator, I get asked this question a lot. Humans have an intense desire to understand and find the meaning behind what they encounter in life. We feel uncomfortable leaving unsolved puzzles because we like to make sense of our world. In the art world, this translates into a deep desire to understand the meaning of a piece of art.
I believe a critical component of art viewing is making peace with not knowing. For the viewer, this means accepting that you might not understand what the artist's intentions were. For the artist, this means accepting that you don't have any control over the interpretation of your art.
Roberta Smith, a famous art critic, says: "Artists do not own the meaning of their work." Although it might frustrate the artist to not be in control, it is a very good thing. Roberta elaborates: "This means your work is alive, that it has more than just you in it...If you're lucky, it will remain alive long after you're gone, changing and growing as more and more people come into contact with it.".
"Artists do not own the meaning of their work." — Roberta Smith
I have always loved that every person who looks at my art has a unique interpretation of it. Art viewers have different cultural backgrounds, values, ideas about life, and connotations to the symbols they see. The emotional impact of a piece cannot be predicted. It is a beautiful part of the process for me. Let’s embrace not knowing. Let’s enjoy art for the sake of art or for what it awakens inside of us. Let’s forget about categories, descriptions, and artist statements. Let’s have an experience.