Thoughts on Identity in Art

I D E N T I T Y. Identity, identify, individual, diverse, divisional, diluted.

My work has focused on areas of Identity over the last several years, of which you will find numerous references throughout this site, taking various perspectives on how art can be seen as a reflection of identity, and indeed how identity can be seen as a reflection of the art we create.

I’ve come to understand that the process of creating art changes the artist in some way. We apply such a focus on externalising our emotion, our inner ‘vision’, that the process of looking actually changes that which we look at- an exorcism of sorts. The externalisation of thought, processed and transformed by our consciousness.

The outcome of the artist is usually for the viewer to feel something, to have a reaction to the work in some way- to disrupt the everyday patterned thinking and lodge a new idea or emotional fingerprint into that person’s experience. To achieve this, the artist must first experience that which they wish to convey, and in reality, experience a graduated array of emotions and thought as the process of creating the work progresses.

The artist ‘feels’ the work is complete at a certain stage, and often must fight logical impulses to keep working. This ‘feeling’, an emotional waypoint, is the critical moment in the works history, and must be listened for and respected if the emotional content and effect is to be conveyed with full, raw intensity.

When I think back to art that has impacted me in some way, I find that there is commonality. The work in question often caught me unaware, or disrupted my chain of thought to such an extent that IT BECAME MY REALITY for a few short moments. This communication is below the ‘logical’ level of the mind and interfaces more directly with our emotions.

Of course not all viewers would be similarly affected, the work instead lies in wait for those predisposed to its message- silently waiting to memetically hatch from its frame, it effectively has an ‘identity’ target market. Our identity, our current focus, our current priorities all affect the response, and often that response will be to walk on by, our minds filters never letting the work past the first stage of awareness. However, from time-to-time a ‘match’ wil be found, and our attention becomes attuned to the work.

Arts effectiveness is in appealing to those core human facets of identity and emotion. Everything we were, are and hope to be reflected back at us as if we are experiencing it for the first time. Identity in art is more than creating art that is personal to the artist- all art is personal to some degree. Our identity provides the ‘environment’ in which the work is created, and perhaps more significantly- defines the audience with whom the work will most intensely resonate.