Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/29/2004: "Wildly Inaccurate Assumptions/Interpretations"

Yesterday I asked if others see my work as being very sexual (because I don't but some of my audience does and one person in particular kind of creeped me out) and Anna L. Conti responded in part with:

..."One of the hazards of getting your art out there is that complete strangers start making wildly inaccurate assumptions about you. Practice the faint-smile-as-you-back-away routine."

That made me want to ask:

What is the most wildly inaccurate assumption someone has made about you based on your artwork?


What was the most wildly inaccurate interpretation of your work that you've ever received?

Here's what fellow artist have replied so far:

Howard: "The funniest inaccrurate interpretation I've had was from this wacked new age nut case of a woman I worked for a number of years ago. She believed the figures I was painting were images of aliens and she was deeply concerned that aliens were controlling my mind."

Anna: "The craziest misinterpretation of a painting was the time I did a portrait of my sister-in-law with symbolic elements around the border to represent significant things in her life (Norway, New Mexico, hops, celtic music, etc.) A woman saw it at an open studios and proceeded to give me a lengthy and elaborate explanation of the "sacred meanings" behind my "goddess painting."

Jackie: "People do tend to make assumptions about artists when viewing their art. Some of my pieces have generated comments by people who think it represents demons/death/S&M/torture/insanity. Hmmm...I'm the least likely person to be associated with those topics, tho I do have a touch of macabre humor. People have had such shocked expressions when I identify myself as the artist...I guess they're expecting some Goth chick/Wiccan or something."

Me (Elise): "One thing that people assume routinely about me is that I'm a lesbian. This has been going on since high school when when one of my mom's best friends who was a "reformed" gay man entering the semenary, told my mom that he could tell from looking at my art that I was "being attacked by the spirit of homosexuality". They went so far as to annoint my room (and several of my canvases) with holy oil."

Anyway, this topic facinates me. Are there any others? (Dio, I could probably be your example, remember that lengthy post I made about your painting looking like upside down steeples?)

Replies: 5 Comments

on Thursday, July 29th, Dio said

Elise, I thought that was fiarly tame compared to some of the ones listed here. :)

To be honest, I can't really remember any that have stood in my mind. I think the best stuff I heard was my folks and relatives pissed up at Christmas discussing my work unaware I was listening.

'cos a lot of my stuff was based around local landmarks then messed up, they regonised the places but were mystified why I'd mixed them all up.

I was pissed as well so I don't remember much about it other than it was fun to hear their far from expert opinions.

on Thursday, July 29th,">Elise said

Let me clarify that when you say "pissed" you mean *drunk* in the UK sense and not *angry*, as in the US sense...right?

I painted some forget-me-nots on my cheek to identify myself as the artist this past show, however, in other shows I've just sort of milled about with the rest of the patrons, listening to their comments without them knowing I was the artist.

Sometimes you hear things that make you feel great and other times you hear things that just make you want to get pissed.

on Friday, July 30th, Dio said

Yeah! Pissed up, as in smashed as in half cut, as in bladdered, as in wankered, as in too much beer!

on Friday, July 30th, holly said

Not really art that *I* produced, but I have a tattoo on my right ankle that is a series of curvy black lines and a couple dots that follow the contour of my ankle. It means absolutely nothing. A friend of mine who happens to be a tattoo artist drew it on with a surgical pencil one night and I demanded that he tattoo it. That's it. Ove the years, though, I've had people (total strangers!)turn themselves upside down trying to "read" it. I had one psycho woman chase me down the street at an arts fair hollering that I was a witch and I had "witch writing" on my ankle. Unbelievable. People have always looked at me skeptically when I say it means nothing, so now I just say, "What do *you* think it means?" and they leave it alone.

on Friday, July 30th,">Elise said

That's a great story Holly...

If any more weirdos give you shit about what it means you should confess that you got it while blacked out during a satanic ritual. Then roll your eyes back and start speaking to them in Latin. That should shut them up.

Oh and Dio, now with your dictionary, I can look these things up myself.