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#HowTo Have a More Fulfilling Experience at an Art Museum

Two of the most common questions I overhear at art museums are "what is it?" or "what does it mean?" Throughout history, new movements in art have challenged people to question the intentions of artists and the concepts their art presents, but when I hear people today asking these questions, it seems they are asked with frustration, confusion, and disinterest.

I borrow the easy answer to this question from my favorite artist, Eva Hesse. She famously said,

" Don't ask what it means or what it refers to.

Don't ask what the work is.

Rather, see what the work does."

Instead of searching for an image or reference to something familiar or recognizable, sit with it. Explore it from far away and up close. Without looking at the title card, try to determine the materials used to make it. Is your eye drawn to a specific area? Does it make you feel a certain way, force you to recall a memory, or remind you of something you've seen before?

A lot of the time, I think people feel like those thoughts are irrelevant, and they push away the memories and emotions that come up, and search harder for the "correct" answer. But there is no correct answer. Yes, artists do make work in hopes that certain ideas will come forward and they make intentional choices to try to guide you towards that idea. But the beauty of art is how it hits different people - how two people can see two completely different things AND how two people can see the exact same thing! Each of those results in meaningful.

I urge you to head to your local art center, gallery, or large art museum and bring an open mind. Look around at each piece and remember to ask yourself "what is this doing?". See which piece speaks to you the most. Spend time with the pieces that continue to catch your eye.

See what the pieces do. It's that simple!

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