VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Monday, April 6, 2015

Making Mistakes

The students read and responded to Walker Percy's Metaphore as Mistake. Here is Adrianna Coe's response:
As I read this essay by Walker Percy, I came to realize the high importance and value he places upon mistakes. He uses a few examples in this essay of mistakes or happy accidents, which lead to greater truths. He talks about how he misread a line from Rupert Brooke. He read,
                        The keen
Impassioned beauty of a great machine,

Percy later realized he was mistaken, and had read unpassioned as impassioned. However, this did not change how he was affected by the poetry and potential truth in what originally inspired him in the misread text. He sees how the readers or viewers are just as important as the writer or creator. The viewing of art, or reading of text is always collaboration between the creator and the audience. Percy realizes in his essay that mistakes allow for the creator to lose total control over their work, and allow the work to take on a life of its own, independent of the creator. These mistakes can reveal larger and deeper truths that the author or artist might not have ever stumbled upon on their own.

            I have found, many, many times, I both my own practice as well as my experience of other artist’s work that there are always hidden metaphors within a piece. Last semester, I painted a very simple, straightforward self-portrait on a white canvas, devoid of context. Since I finished this piece, it has sat in my garage at home. My family sees it every day, and every time someone mentioned it, they read into this piece a little more, trying to find the meaning within. When I painted this portrait, I intended it to be a simple study of the human form. However, over time, and my friends and family experiencing my portrait over a large span of time, this work has developed a history and is rich with meaning. They see my expression, posture, how I see myself, how they see me, etc. the mistakes that Percy writes about are some of the most wonderful moments in my art making. It takes the pressure off of me, as the artist, and I have learned to have fun with my work, and allow others into my space and process. Collaboration is not just between artists, but it also between the artist(s) and viewers, and the influence of natural human error, misinterpretation, accidents, and everything that doesn’t go “according to plan.”

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