Like many I find myself becoming more politically minded as I get older, and in current times it’s tough not to be.
I want to reflect that refreshed awareness in some way in my art. My lack of formal art training, and two decades focused elsewhere, have left me without the visual vocabulary to express such ideas right now. But there’s also something more deeply rooted at work here.
I remember a school art project to create a poster for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. I don’t recall the exact nature of the brief, but I chose to create a very graphic silkscreened image of the Olympic Rings, the central upper ring forming the front of a Russian tank’s main gun, leading back and down to a silhouette of the tank itself. I printed a variety of colour options on different coloured papers. It was strong, direct, and very satisfying.
Amongst the other posters of athletes, logos, and others I cannot recall, mine appeared very much out of place. The teachers graded it low, and tried to avoid drawing attention to it, discussing briefly with frowns and clear discomfort. Everything about the way they treated that particular work demonstrated that statements and standing out from the rest was wrong.
That opinion hit this impressionable and insecure 15-year-old at just the wrong moment. Only in this time of reigniting my visual creative work have I understood the lingering inhibiting affect this has had.
Don’t listen to them, kids. When you have something to say visually, say it, loud and clear and proud, and don’t let the naysayers knock you off course.
Featured image: By Derzsi Elekes Andor CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons