Let The Audience Participate: bring them in the art

Here at Root Inspirations we feel a strong fondness for art that engages the audience, bringing them into its world and allowing them to find meaning in it for themselves. Let the audience participate. The artist can attempt to guide that journey to an extent, but ultimately it is what the audience takes away from the piece that matters. This is why people fondle jewelry. It is why they travel the world taking selfies in front of classical architecture or to ponder works in museums. Hell, it is why we fight about movies on the Internet and some people kill each other over religious cartoons. We strive, both overtly and subversively, to find ways to get people to take that journey through the things we create.

Composition is Key

One tool that I use in my drawings is to compose the piece so that it pulls your eye through the drawing. To this end I incorporate a deep field of perspective with numerous pieces in motion that relate to one another. That way, objects which pop in the foreground pull your vision towards action in the middle ground, and so on. I can create a sense of storytelling and movement without breaking an image into multiple panels.

Negative space often gets a bad wrap in two-dimensional art. Often we are told to fill up a drawing or painting from a young age, as can be attested by a quick trip to any third grade art class. However, it can be another useful tool for pulling the observer’s eye through a piece and allowing their imagination some room for interpretation. Indeed, the creative play between highly detailed line work and totally empty space can prompt the audience into all sorts of contemplation. Some of the most iconic photographs in history use negative space to outstanding effect. In sequential art, the negative space between panels is where all the action happen.

I am currently working to expand my drawing skills to include even more elements to stimulate the audience. Ideally, I’d like to give the audience the sense that they’ve been transplanted into the work.

Getting Physical

When I sculpt something, I want it to make people want to pick it up. I want them to feel the weight of it in their hands, to inspect the craft that goes into it. I want them to look for details and clues and wonder what use they might find for it in their own lives.

One tool I use to this end is really bold color schemes. Unlike my drawings, which I have always been loathe to add color to, my sculptures are a playground of color. Through utilizing bold and complimentary color schemes I create things which seem to pop out from the surrounding reality. I generally limit the colors on each piece used to only three or four colors, depending on the piece.

One of the nice things about using gourds as a base to sculpt on is that they are relatively thin shelled and hollow while retaining considerable structural strength. This allows me to use the space inside the gourd as well, the resulting play between inside and outside often draws people to take a closer look. Gaping mouths filled with teeth, glass eyes, and open backs or bottoms can give people pause to wonder both about the sculpture as what it represents as well as what its practical use might be.

Future sculptures will include secret spaces, mirrored insides, and other nifty tricks to engage the audience even further. To foster curiosity, play, and utility is the ultimate goal.

Reality Check

Art, regardless of its form, is only as good or important as the audience deems it to be. Skilled artisans toil their whole lives on works which never see the light of day. Can we call them masterpieces without experiencing them for ourselves? The journey of the audience, and the conversation with the piece itself, is the real work of art.

Author: Nathaniel

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