Art Appreciation: Making the Experience Personal

By London urban artist, D-Face

By Natasha Ganes

By Australian street artist, Fintan Magee
By Australian street artist, Fintan Magee

Back in grad school, I spent some time studying John Dewey’s theory of Art as Experience, part of which hits upon the idea that in order to fully recognize the value of any work of art, it helps to understand its worth and relate to its importance by turning the artistic effort into a personal experience. In other words, you can’t just glance at a painting or skim a poem and get the same effect as the person who truly immerses themselves into those scenes. The viewer who gazes at a watercolor of lily pads, and remembers their last visit to a pond, enjoys a very different feeling than the one who briefly nods at the work and moves along. The person who reads the description of a mysterious tapping at a window late one stormy night, and shivers in anticipation, creates an extremely opposite effect within themselves than the reader who barely comprehends those same lines.

Whether through past recollection or an understanding of the situation, to completely comprehend an artist’s ideas, you might want to try to travel with them to that place where they have imaginatively settled and share in the creative development. Of course the person who creates the art and the one who acquires it can’t possibly undergo identical thoughts or ideas during their separate processes, but the act of going through a progression of appreciation at all signifies an experience of the artist’s work.

Keeping Dewey’s idea of art as experience in mind, I invite you to click on the below works from some of our past contributing artists and try to relate to them in a new way. Take your time, place yourself into the scene, conjure up some memories, turn it into a personal experience, and see if you manage to appreciate the art in a way you might not have before.