Making Meaning in Art: Alexis Smith, Eric Maisel



“I have a way to talk about whatever I want. And that’s more meaningful to me than whether people like my work or I make a lot of money.”

That is a comment by collage artist Alexis Smith, in an interview article about her gallery show “Slice of Life,” created with poet Amy Gerstler. In his article David Ulin writes “her collages insist [that] humor is, or should be, a way of approaching some more troubling sort of truth. It disarms us, gets us to lower our defenses; then it zeroes in for the kill.

“I think of her piece ‘Black and Blue for Howie Long,’ which features a painter’s palette on which is emblazoned, above the image of two men fighting, this quote from the titular former football player: ‘I am an artist. My art is assaulting people.’ Neither Smith nor Gerstler would say so, but this could be said, as well, for ‘Past Lives’ (or, for that matter, any piece in ‘Slice of Life’), which means to provoke us, not least by putting writing on a wall.”

[Amy Gerstler and Alexis Smith discuss the art of collaboration, by David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2013]

In another interview, Smith talked about feeling “affectionately toward popular culture because I am part of it. I don’t see myself as being outside of it passing judgment. I am not an academic, a philosopher, or an anthropologist.

“I am dealing with these things as things that have meaning for me and for other people, and that’s our common bond. I am immersed in popular culture: I’m sort of in the trenches and don’t believe in cynical, judgmental art.”

[From Journal of Contemporary Art interview with Madeleine Grynsztejn.]

Here is a video clip from “Revealing Art with Alexis Smith in the Studio” from MOCAtv  [click 'See More' to view original video]

Two books that include Smith:

Art/Women/California, 1950-2000: Parallels and Intersections (San Jose Museum of Art)

WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution, Cornelia Butler and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, Editors

Making meaning in art and being creative

The Van Gogh BluesCreativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel notes how vitally important meaning in work and life is for creative people.

In his book The Van Gogh Blues he writes: “The cliche is that creativity and depression go hand-in-hand. Like many cliches, this one is quite true. But creators are not necessarily afflicted with some biological disease or physiological disorder… They experience depression simply because they are caught up in a struggle to make life seem meaningful to them.”

From post Working with depression

Related posts:

Eric Maisel on investing meaning in our art to manage depression

Investing Meaning In Our Creative Work

The Meaning Solution Program by Eric Maisel

A Recipe for Authentic Living: Making Meaning by Eric Maisel, PhD

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