Conceptual Copy-Cats

As artists we desire to make work that is thought-provoking. One sees this universal pursuit every time one visits a contemporary art museum, gallery, or exhibition.

Having been an educator in the arts I can say that there is a pretty common consensus that the contemporary arts, while being occasionally visually interesting, lacks understanding, purpose beyond itself, & intentionality.

I think this is the danger almost all young artists & artist wanta-be’s fall into & that is if one can present work that appears to contain conceptual depth without actually having it it is successful. The mere appearance of meaning is enough for most unfortunately.

Now to be clear, conceptual depth here means having a point or message to relay or represent that addresses a deeper understanding of what it means to be human, which is what the visual arts has always done in part or in whole.

The travesty of this is that over time one fools him/herself & is embraced & encouraged by others who have fallen off the cliff so to speak & can exist through the short amount of time one has on this earth without having made anything that helped others better understand life & purpose, & consequently creates a body of work founded on nothingness. I know there are a lot of artists out there desiring, or at least at one time having desired, to make something of significance that provides insight into the human condition, but might have positioned themselves in such a place where it might not feel safe to ponder & investigate the unknown & the transcendental.

But ask yourself this, do you want to explore what could be or play it safe as a conceptual copy-cat?

What might work look like that is not being conceptually copy-catted? I propose it possesses a visceral nature that people “relate to”, & that this sense of relating comes from perceiving a similar struggle in the process of pursuing ultimate meaning.

-Robert Alsobrook


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