“One Person’s Art is Another’s Trash”


When I was in my early 20s, I thought differently of most things compared to my 30s. I was substantially more hopeful and confident about the future and positive about the intentions of those within my community. In a sense I was a classical optimist. I thought that if something looks beautiful to me, the feeling must be a universal one and that others most definitely should be seeing the beauty that I see as well. However, I was far from being accurate on these predictions. 

I thought that if I worked day and night to make the perfect craftsmanship on a piece of architectural model, and brought the forms and details to a perfect balance of perfection within my eye, most would automatically like it as well. I had no idea that the feelings I gave to a person could so strongly influence the judgement for the level of beauty the art work possessed.

What I did not realize was the orchestral role of many complex varieties of human emotions in convoluting the viewers mind in such a degree that many masterpieces could be discarded so easily and mercilessly. The preliminary emotions of a viewer has a potential to directly influence the level of excellence of a piece of art being evaluated. The viewer may say things during the review in which could cause him to question the judgement and the chosen words later within the same day. Almost as if the viewer later noticed that a spell was casted on him to act and react in a certain way during a review process. However, for the artist, as simple as this may sound it does actually take a while for him to implement these learnings into an intrinsic and reflexive mental response when delivering his presentation. The more socially cunning ones would be well aware of this, making sure to gently and subtly massage the fragile egos of their patrons before presenting them the final product. Even better, they would get their evaluators involved in the art process at its making, ensuring that they take ownership as well in the end product, therefor guaranteeing the good mark. A carefully calculated touch indeed.  

Further building on the idea of ownership, one evening a professor of ours sent out a mass email with a long message about the importance of cleaning up our studio spaces after a long weeks design charette. And in the end of his email he wrote “one person’s art is another person’s trash”. For some reason this sentence really got to me in a way. It was a difficult pill the swallow but I had to take that medicine. The truth that unless others don’t have some sort of ownership of our art work, it is no better to them than the molding leftovers within the local fast food restaurants rubbish can. 

It is truly fascinating how people do not give each other a chance that maybe, in fact, this art work, indeed, is of value and should be taken good care of; or it is simply the process work of a future master artist and it should most definitely be documented and preserved in case it may one day help educate the future generations of artists and subsequently cost millions. But, however, often the work of art of an unknown one is treated with the utmost pessimism, in the sense that people are almost sure that the work produced by the unknown is simply trash, just because they did not feel good that day about themselves, or that they simply just might not like the color of the artist’s eye or skin and/or the level of masculine or feminine energy he/she emits making them feel inferior beyond the boundaries of the human intellect and academicism, going deep into the instincts wired in them hundreds of thousands of years ago. 

In the sense we may make the silly analogy of a bucket of crabs pulling each other back down as one tries to advance. People tend to have this tendency of not wanting to take the most minor role in the process of making a grand artist. But once the artist is known to be great, then they all come down flocking under his wings, wanting to be part of the greatness. Almost like how capitalism works in todays western economies. 

But wait, it gets better, my thoughts of the quote “one persons art is another persons trash” even further solidified in my mind when I took gardening as an diligent hobby of mine. I thought if a certain piece of nature, a plant with beautiful flowers and fruits depending on the season, looks beautiful and meaningful in my eyes than it most definitely should for others as well. In the end I did not create the flower this is not my art, it is God’s creation and his art, so this type of beauty should most definitely be appreciated universally I thought, without me having to play mind games while presenting it as I used to do for artwork during reviews. After all aren’t we all human beings and students of nature? But no. Surely someone comes along and tells you that that type of beauty is not appropriate to be in his shared vicinity with you. He will refuse to see the beauty of nature as long as he is pre-occupied and burdened by other heavy negative emotions deep within. This may be one of the reasons why most say that gardening is an old mans hobby, because their feelings are numb in the sense that they do not get aggravated by rivalry so quickly, thus being able to concentrate clearly at true unfiltered beauty with no middle man such as an artist, mother nature.

In the end what human beings are trying to do with art is to learn from nature and create different visual languages for communicating emotions. In a sense, trying in futility to replicate certain pleasant and/or not so pleasant but primal emotions otherwise obtained by viewing and experiencing nature at certain times of the day. This simulation of emotions constructed by the choice of art media requires one important thing to reach a just level of success besides from being well crafted and having a reasonable intent to it. The emotional state of the evaluator must be neutral and devoid from other primal instincts that may work for or against the art work. That is exactly why verbal presentations may convolute the categorization of excellent art, personalities may intrude and hinder a just process. 

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