Express Yourself (Weekly Photo Challenge)


“Hammer Shattering Glass Shattering Hammer” What does it mean?

I’ve been pondering the question of “What is Art?” and consequently, what makes an artist?

and what is the purpose of art?

and who decides all of these things?

and what is the meaning of life?

Oh, wait. Nix that last one. I quit pondering that a long time ago.

I’ll be exploring these questions in future posts. Probably…

But today, the Daily Post weekly photo challenge is based on the theme “Express Yourself,” which has led me to musing about art as a means of expressing oneself.

Maybe that’s a basic parameter of art: the artist is creating/performing/producing art as a means of self-expression.

But if an artist creates something in order to express him- or herself, does it matter whether the viewer understands what it is that the artist is trying to express? Or is it the act of expressing oneself all that really matters?

I share photos of my newly completed stained glass panels on FaceBook, a practice which is primarily undertaken because I like to get positive feedback on my work. And since they’re all my “friends” on FB, I can be fairly confident that I won’t get flamed. I’m kind of a coward that way.

I got a FB comment once that did rankle me for a while, though. In response to a photo of one of my pieces, someone wrote, “Cool. But what is it?” It didn’t bother me that this woman couldn’t recognize what I was trying to portray. My intent was more to convey an emotion – or a mood – than to depict a literal object.

What bugged me was that she felt the need to ask. My response to her was along the lines of, “It’s whatever you want it to be.” I know what it means to me, and it’s irrelevant to me as to what it meant to her. Not that I don’t care; it’s always interesting to know what others see in your work. And someone else’s interpretation might give me new insight as well. But whatever her interpretation is, it’s neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.

So another thought… does it matter whether the artist him- or herself knows what they are trying to convey? Does art have to have any meaning at all?

Jackson Pollock’s paintings are about as abstract as art can get. A Wikipedia article about him states that, “[In] continuing to evade the viewer’s search for figurative elements in his paintings, Pollock abandoned titles and started numbering his works.”

Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, is quoted as explaining the numbering of his works thusly: “Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a picture for what it is—pure painting.”

Pure painting… Does that mean that it is not meant to be interpreted at all? Did Pollock have his own interpretations for the pieces, or was he simply practicing “pure painting?”

And if there is meant to be no interpretation on the part of the artist or the viewer, is it in fact art?

So many questions…

My title for the panel pictured above is “Hammer Shattering Glass Shattering Hammer.” (Or No. 11, if you prefer.) I’d be curious to know how others interpret the piece.

Any comments?
Express Yourself

About Maggie C

Stained glass artist, writer, respecter of life.
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20 Responses to Express Yourself (Weekly Photo Challenge)

  1. Tina Schell says:

    I absolutely love the piece and find it immensly clever. Your title for it is wonderful. Sometimes it’s enough to enjoy a piece without having to interpret it, don’t you think????

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie C says:

      Very true. Maybe I’ve had too many years of psychotherapy. Everything has to mean something. But as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Thanks for commenting.


  2. Or another title — Double Take. Love stained glass, and that was my first thought. My second — yowza. Cheers (visiting from Susie’s)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. FitsofWit says:

    To me, almost anything we create can be considered art. I don’t think it has to have meaning behind it or necessarily look like anything. I do find artwork is more interesting to me when there are emotions behind it.
    Susie sent me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie C says:

      Good point. Sometimes I design a piece more to try out an idea or technique rather than to convey any meaning. But it seems like it inevitably ends up expressing something from within whether that was the intent or not.


  4. susielindau says:

    I would have said the same thing to your Facebook friend. I graduated in Art from the UW-Madison and believe everything is up to interpretation. It never bothered me when people had different ideas about what I created. I guess, I thought that was the fun of it! I grew up in a family of artists and we are all like that. My sister is going to have her first show in April! Woohoo!
    Thanks for bringing this to the party! Love your stained glass. I made a few windows too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First let me say, I love the glass piece. It is magnificent…and I’m not a “friend” so believe me when I tell you. I often judge (for lack of a better word right now) a piece by how it makes me feel. The colours, the textures, the technique all come together and make me think or feel something. That is what I consider true art. Not that I knew that something was what it was but that the artist made feel something or brought something to mind for me to think about. Susie’s party is smashing isn’t it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you stopped by Susie’s so I could discover your blog. Deep questions! It seems easier to leave aside the question of meaning in the visual arts and music. Writing is different, I’d argue. Because spoken and written language is a skill that most humans have (while paining and music composition are not), we tend to ascribe meaning to all language. We look for “themes” and “messages” in written works, maybe more than in other kinds of art.

    I look forward to discovering more of your work and hearing more of your reflections on art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • …oops, Freudian slip: I meant “painting,” not “paining.” How’s that for meaning?


      • Maggie C says:

        Funny… I didn’t catch the typo ’til you corrected it. You have a good point. With writing, there’s almost an implicit understanding that there is some meaning behind it (maybe with the exception of Dr. Seuss, but that’s my personal bias), Hence the phrases ‘reading between the lines” and “reading into” something. Interesting.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  7. Deliberately Delicious says:

    I’m sidling up next to the guest at Susie’s party who’s fretting about arriving early. As another “tardy Fashionista” I understand your worry…

    So glad I found your site. I’m so intrigued by stained glass work and would love to learn how to create in this medium.

    Love your work and vote for “Number 11” as a title 🙂


  8. Maggie C says:

    “No. 11” it is, then! Thanks for coming by. Great party!


  9. Great insight. Love your glass work also. Susie Sent me.


  10. Debbie says:

    I stared at this photo for ages. It’s so multidimensional. Even the hammer is – or appears – ‘broken’. I wanted to look beyond the broken glass to see what lies underneath, but it’s all an illusion.

    It’s static. A captured moment of action.


    You should win prizes for this ‘stained glass’ – do they have stained glass competitions?

    Liked by 1 person

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