How we see art is a reflection of ourselves. We can only feel things that are, in some way, part of ourselves. Much of art resonates not merely due to it’s beauty, but its ability to show us … us.
Sometimes that can be scary. Just out of personal interest — not for trolling — I am a member of several conservative meme/lifestyle groups. Occasionally an art piece pops up that deeply disturbs most members of the group (McJesus, for a recent example). The common, but not overwhelming, response is scorn. “That is horrible and blasphemous.” “Please take it down.” “They will regret [making that].” Very little is said why the piece is “horrible;” it is simply repeated that it is.
Jani Leinonen, creator of McJesus. Pirje Mykkänen, valokuvaaja / photographer • CC BY-SA 4.0
It’s not easy allowing ourselves such mental vulnerability. It feels like an attack – like they’re saying we’re bad. Like whoever made that art hates us. If I were a Christian, it would probably feel deeply unsettling to see Ronald McDonald nailed to a cross. To take something I took for granted and make it into what superficially feels like a mockery of who I am. For most people thought ends there. The mind shuts off and the shouting begins.
People suck at self-reflection. Especially when instigated by a faceless “other.” Part of this is growing a thicker skin. Did I really just want to yell at a sculpture? That’s ridiculous. Does some art make you feel silly? Alone and insignificant? Good. It’s doing its job. What is the art trying to say?
And what does it say about you that a piece makes you feel what it does?