Artist Statement “The meaning behind an artistic image can sometimes be different to the viewer than it is to its creator”.
Art comes from the same region of the brain that dreams do, so different than the region that tries to organize and process the vast amounts of information we are constantly exposed to. And like a dream, you can only make sense of it after it has occurred or been created. By that measure, the artist’s interpretation of it belongs in the same category as the viewer’s. Each brings their own set of unique experiences to it.
So, even if I, as the artist have a passionate story behind an image, it’s no more valid than the viewer’s. Culturally we are very oriented to put everything into words, but the visual is a valid language of it’s own.
Lorraine Vail describes the process of bringing an artistic idea to fruition as being similar to dreaming. “Often an idea will form in my mind, and it’s completely visual—I don’t immediately know the significance or meaning behind it,” she says, explaining that it’s not until that vision is transferred into material form (usually by sketching it out on paper) that she begins to understand what it’s about. “It’s like recalling a dream and suddenly realizing, ‘Oh, that was really about power, or beauty, or something entirely different than you originally thought,’” she says.For Vail, the potential for limitless interpretation is one of the most exciting aspects of art. Whether she is translating her vision onto canvas or forming it into the imaginative bronze figures she’s best known for, Vail’s goal is always the same: To convey an intangible aspect of the human experience in a tangible way. “I like to use a dynamic personality to tell a story or share a universal feeling, so I do that using the figure,” she says. “I try to take an emotion or experience we’ve all had and think, ‘What would that look like?’ and, ‘How can I evoke that familiar feeling in the viewer?’” Of course, Vail says, no matter what her intentions or ideas may be, in the end it is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning of a piece for himself or herself. “As long as the viewer connects with the piece in some way, I’ve done my job,” she says.
—Lindsay Mitchell, Southwest Art Featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine