My teacher once told me…
“you can never judge a piece of art without first participating in it.”
At first I must admit, I was confused. To participate in art? What does she mean? I’ve heard of some pretty crazy “participation art” pieces in my art school days but I hardly believed that was what she was encouraging for class… (look it up, crazy stuff! I won’t even mention the details here)
She went on to show us this piece
(Guernica by Pablo Picasso)
Being a student of art, I do love myself some modern pieces and have a more than slight obsession with the Vienna Secession… so I loved it immediately. Though the majority of my classmates said they’d never want this on their wall.
The participation process she described to us can be applied not only to art… but to life in general
It goes: Participation- Analysis- Perception- Appreciation (Papa!)
- First, we instinctively judge the piece– With anything in life we do this… people, places, cultures etc. And it is killing our creativity and the wholesomeness of our lives.
- We must CHALLENGE our subjective opinion. Research whatever it is you’re judging. If we stay uncultured to things unfamiliar to us… we can never learn the perspective they have to offer.
As human beings we naturally crave comfort, but for growth and opening to happen we must step outside of our comfort zones. It is only there that we will broaden our perspective.
3. Once we’ve done a little research into where that person is coming from, we will add our own perception. Just like a piece of art, every one of us will judge an experience differently due to their our past experiences.
4. Now that we have sat with that experience we can revisit it and truly know how we feel. We can find comfort in the fact that we tried. It’s ok if you don’t like that piece of art, don’t agree with parts of that religion, or don’t enjoy that individual’s personality. You’ve honestly looked at the inside of that experience and not judged it for lack of better words…by its cover.
Keeping an open mind is important to anyone, but I as a writer find it extremely important to my trade.
How can I write about a woman who lives in Turkey, if I don’t know what daily life in Turkey is like?
Jumping out of our comfort zones can help enrich ourselves and our stories, bringing a new substantive feeling we can no longer return from once we’ve triggered it. So here’s my challenge to you…
If you’re writing the story of someone struggling with depression… open yourself up to your own sadness and feel it with them. If you’re writing about someone leading a revolution… research revolutions of the past and understand the struggles they will face in their everyday lives.
Go out and live life… grip it in your hands… feel it! As one of my favorite writers once said:
“…I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…”
~Henry David Thoreau