When Art Makes You Sick: Introduction to a Many Part Series

Art is Also Despicable /Odd/Uncomfortable/Disgusting, etc.

Art elicits myriad feelings, welcome and unwelcome — excitement, passion, discomfort, disgust. Art is weird like that, and so, this series is dedicated to unpacking THE STRANGE. Hold on to your butts, you’re in for a wild ride!

What's the role of the artist?

An artist requires neither a job description nor a boss. I’d argue that courage is the only thing an artist truly needs — courage not to create a work of art, but to show it and be judged by it. In truth, the job is a little masochistic. Yet despite this tendency towards masochism, or perhaps because of it, humanity has been provided a visual tale of the human condition that lays bare our greatest triumphs, losses and darkest moments. To create this narrative tapestry is the real job of the artist.

But what about the viewer?

Understanding the role of the viewer has been a hobby of mine. Some, like my husband, may argue that it is a border-line obsession. I’m willing to admit that my enthusiasm has grown slightly since founding Mona Loves Gustav. That said, if you believe that:


…the main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live,

Auguste Rodin

then how could you want to be anything but ‘obsessed’? Much like the artist, being a viewer also requires courage — courage to recognize works that speak to who you are, even when you question who that actually is; courage to feel the emotions, whatever they might be and know they are valid.

As much as it is the artist’s job is to push the boundaries, his or her true purpose is to remind the rest of us to be who we are and say what we feel. Not all art is created equal, nor are all of our feelings about art. Art has the ability to elicit from us a mixed bag of emotions: some pieces will pleasantly remind us of a first love or adventure while others will evoke uncomfortable, potentially suppressed childhood traumas of Batshit Crazy Aunt Betty.

So, sometimes, art makes us sick! Aunt Betty may be a special breed of crazy, but she likely has something important to teach us, despite and because of it. This series is my personal tribute to all the crazy Aunt Betties of the art world. I may not want any of them as permanent fixtures in my house, but maybe I can’t stop staring at them, either. Cheers to THE STRANGE!