Butter Me Up.

In college I did an art project. I wasn’t taking any art classes; it was just something I did for fun, and because I was buzzing with creative energy that found multiple outlets, most of which were writing, but occasionally I’d feel the need to do something visual. Anyway I took a canvas and painted blue lines radiating out from the center on it, and then I took pieces of a broken mirror—I’d found the mirror and not actually broken it myself, since I didn’t want seven years of bad luck—and glued the pieces to the canvas. I more or less reconstructed the mirror’s original shape but left just enough space between the pieces that you could still see the lines.

I called it “Self Portrait”.

Someone who looked at it asked me, “Do you really see yourself as such a fragmented person?” And that was an interesting question, not because I saw myself as a fragmented person—I didn’t—but because the idea I had in mind was that it wasn’t my self-portrait. When you look in a mirror who looks back at you? Sometimes it was Carl, the theater major, who always seemed to be right behind me whenever I washed my hands at the bathroom sink, but that’s another story.

There’s also the fact that when you look at a work of art, any art, you’re looking at it with your own individual perspective, your own history. You may have heard that the Louvre moved the Mona Lisa, and there’s a not so modest proposal to move it permanently, and one of the funny details of that is the number of people who go see it and describe it as “disappointing”. I’m not surprised. Seeing the real thing ain’t that big a deal when you’ve seen it a million times before. It was a very different experience for Napoleon who kept the Mona Lisa in his bedroom. When I went to the Louvre I went and looked at the Mona Lisa, along with a zillion other tourists, more out of a sense of obligation than actual interest. I stood there and said, “Yep, that’s it,” then I wandered off in search, mostly, of things I hadn’t seen before.

Anyway it’s a good thing I wasn’t taking an art class because if I’d turned that in I probably would have gotten an “F” for “pretentious” because art teachers can’t spell.

The tag BUTTER and UH are ones I’ve written about before and they do some pretty elaborate work. This was more of a quick tag, hitting a mirror that looks like it was being thrown away. I’m not sure the use of the mirror was intentional but it’s still interesting, and can make you ask, when you look into it, what do you see?

Hint: it’s not Carl.

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10 Comments

  1. Jay

    I think the Mona Lisa is disappointing even without seeing it in person. It’s hard to understand what all the jazz is about. Art is subjective and that’s okay.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Absolutely! And accepting that art is subjectivity is the beginning of breaking down the idea that there’s a limited canon of “important” works. I think the Mona Lisa is only really interesting when you start looking at the stories behind it: DaVinci was gay or bisexual, and in order to complete the picture (which took him years because he procrastinated on everything) he may have combined a woman’s portrait with his own. But you don’t even need to look at the Mona Lisa to get all that.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    You validate my response to people who say to me things like “don’t you ever want to see The Grand Canyon (or insert other destination spot” and I say “I’ve already seen it on the internet.” 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Although I do think there’s some value in seeing things in person–I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon but I’ve been to other historic landmarks and the internet just doesn’t provide me the same experience–I also think individual priorities should be respected. If you really don’t want to see the Grand Canyon that’s okay, and strapping you into a Clockwork Orange-style chair and dangling you over it isn’t going to help.

      Reply
  3. Kristine Laco

    I saw Carl. Now I’m freaked out.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Carl is a wily character. It was better when I’d hear him coming, which happened often because he liked to go around reciting monologues.

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    When I look into your posts, Chris, I see all of us.
    Ann Koplow recently posted…Day 2554: Mood swingsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think I’m helping you see the good in yourself, and I’m glad for that.

      Reply
  5. Arionis

    Was Carl on any type of offender list?
    Arionis recently posted…Time to Replace Some CogsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Carl’s worst offense was delivering monologues from plays at me while I was standing at the urinal. I took to using stalls whenever I saw him around.

      Reply

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