We like our News scary, but we like our Art safe??

Bronze 2003 ht about 3" This is a detail from a piece that includes a gun-patterned globe.

Bronze 2003
ht about 3″
This is a detail from a piece that includes a gun-patterned globe.

Unless you are selling your artwork to an art museum of some kind, your artwork is probably destined for somebody’s living room.

And, apparenty, this is what people want in their living rooms:
a couch, obviously
TV, novels, video games, all preferably featuring variations on murder and war.
Art that is the opposite of murder and war.

Over the years, I notice what I can and cannot get away with: Animals are ok. People with animal heads no. Cats yes; rats no. Dragons yes; snakes no. Blue yes; green no. Female body parts maybe; male body parts no. Skeletons maybe; wormy skeletons no. Guitar yes; the head is the guitar no. More than 2 arms maybe; more than one head no. Two eyes yes; three eyes no. (Do not mess with the head.) I happen to like things that are a bit twisted and alarming. Sigh.

People want their art to be maybe beautiful, maybe unique, amusing, perhaps a little thought-provoking. But nothing really unsettling, scary or revolting. I get that. I dont exactly want that stuff in my living room either.

But take a look at what else is in the living room. The TV, with its ongoing anxiety-producing murders, autopsies, end of the world horrors. The News itself. Mayhem somehow make a better story than chickadees. Novels on the coffee table feature murder torture and betrayal. Doesn’t this all seem odd? Wouldn’t you think the Stephen King fans would be a little more tolerant of a nice little autopsy sculpture??

We seem to love to be faux-scared by novels, movies and video games, but we want our art to be safe… Is this because we think art is like furniture and should be comfortable to lie down
on? Art seems unsuitable for profound exploration. Well, profoundly funny, or profoundly beautiful. But not profoundly upsetting.

Or do we recognize the potential for art to get right under our skins, right up next to our so-vulnerable hearts, where all that mayhem would be too damaging? OK for all that pretend murder in the periphery, but way too dangerous up close where we really live.

We do need to heal ourselves with positive imagery. We are starved for it really. But it is dangerous to try to deny the other side. Because our lives contain both. Maybe we are working out all our negative stuff via movies and video games. Building up our tolerance to disaster. But saving art for something simpler, kinder, more healing, more loveable….

This is a little disappointing to me. I am a big fan of multiple heads, doll eyes, the twisted, the dark side. I was recently very intent on a potential Vomit Series. Featuring heads spewing out beautiful swirls of beads, rhinestones etc. Or maybe mappified swirls. Or tinnified. Themes of regret, purging. Things coming in, but going out the wrong way. I got sidetracked before I got very far. I am trying to make a living here, and I dont want to be making this room full of sculpture that I’ll have to maybe eventually take to the dump….Anyway, stay tuned. Its on the back burner for now but Im pretty attached to the idea still.

barfmobile linocut 2015

barfmobile linocut 2015

Note about the bronze Borg, above: I accidentally made a Borg in about 2005. I didn’t even know what a Borg was. What is a Borg? What makes this thing a Borg??


  1. Brilliant!

  2. Oh, Kathy, I am so glad you are doing this blog. It is such a treat to visit with you this way, to revel in your words as well as your art! I’m for more art videos!


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