Why art... / by Kerri McGill

One question that haunts the painter is, "Why?"...Why the effort, the allocation of money, and energy? It is the question that leaves every art student speechless and every professional stammering about feelings. Every once in a while I take a break from the studio and tackle the question.

What type of vocation is this, an artist? No structure, save the restrictions of the medium and the voice in your head that says “Stop, before you ruin it!” There is certainly no financial security. Making art is scary. The artist creates in pursuit of the perfect translation of information, from the intellect to the physical. There is only the drive to reinterpret life.

There are the life basics: food, shelter, reproduction. This is survival. For most animals, motion deals strictly with acts of survival. For the human animal the drive to create products outside of a given natural environment seems both unnatural and human at the same time. This strange use of energy defines the quality of life, how one survives and grows. The artist observes the existing structure with a critical mind, internalizes the experience, personalizes the idea with an individual voice. The input transforms into the idea. The idea evolves into a plan. The plan sets the cue for motion. The motion results in the creation of a product.

The product is a visual constant with an emotional trigger. Art introduces emotions, ideas, and experiences that open up new paths in ways of thinking. Visual experiences create a space for emotional and intellectual research and reevaluation of hypothetical experiences.

As an artist, I am not a natural. With each painting comes more experience with the medium and new visual possibilities. The new possibilities make a beginner of me all over again. A successful image needs balance between message and medium, familiarity and ambiguity. This balance allows my voice and the viewer’s own interpretation to be equally valid. The figurative nature of my work makes it accessible. Subjects such as birds and flowers are traditional visual symbols. Where subjects portray ambiguity, a figure looks away, the medium gives direction. The character of the charcoal and the color of the oils offer a distinct voice and tone.

Part researcher, part storyteller, I offer my personal vision to the community. The work does not demand a one-sided spotlight, but invites the viewer into an intimate exchange of ideas. The work invokes participation and interpretation. It is a dynamic visual dialog. This is a special type of social interaction, one that looks for immediate emotional and intellectual response.

Emotion controls attention. Attention controls sight. Sight controls movement and action. Every action is proceeded by motivation, a plan. Every action brings one into a new environment. Every environment induces a flurry of thought, recall, mapping, and adjustment. Art provides a stimulus different from those in the natural environment of survival. Art invokes social interaction different from the interactions of basic survival. If emotion drives our thought process, art brings it full circle. Art is not a decoration. Art is the equipment that aids our evolution and provides a higher quality of life.