Sign in

Delia LaJeunesse

Before I started doing this work, I can recall many instances where I felt frozen in front of a piece of art. It wasn’t that it didn’t move me, or that I didn’t find it relevant or beautiful. Rather, I got caught up in the ego. I felt a pressure to say something remarkable about the piece.

This was true for me even though I myself am an artist. I had a group of friends who were all artists, and was running a non-profit arts organization. You would think it was second nature.

But I, like so many of us…

Artist talkbacks are a remarkable and potent experience. Unfortunately, they seem somehow few and far between. My hope is to equip you with some insights in order to push art organizers to facilitate more talkbacks. I also offer some tools for you to feel empowered in these opportunities. Many people don’t seem to recognize the benefits of a talkback. At least not enough to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Here is a brief exploration of talkbacks, and how you can take part in them

What is an artist talkback?

An artist talkback is an opportunity for the audience and the artist to be…

photo by Noah Kaplan.

Every time I do something slowly, I am in my most present, embodied, well self. I am in alignment with all life when I move, speak, eat, write slowly. But slow is not the way of this culture, and it takes serious discipline and frequent reminders to slow down.

When I go slow I am in prayer. Slowness as an invocation. Art as invocation.

Going slow is difficult

Even when I benefit from slowness so much, I have to commit myself to the practice of it, to create space for it.

This is one of the reasons I so value arts appreciation as a…

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

I had a gathering the other night and got to speaking with two women about the intimidation we each feel in art spaces. Two of us are artists, and one has lived with and been surrounded by artists for much of her life. And yet we all shared in this experiences that art scenes and spaces can be intimidating.

So first, if you feel intimidated around art, take heart. Basically, we all do, at one point or another.

Why is this?

I have long been curious about why art is so intimidating. There has been a bizarre story created around art and our…

It doesn’t need to be said, but I will by way of topic introduction. Covid made everything weird.

A lot of us did some introspection, some soul searching, some reflecting. Many of us found our habits to be less than desirable. Or perhaps our priorities are all out of whack. Or we found a dirge of meaning.

Here are some scenarios:

You discovered some of your lifestyle choices aren’t the healthiest. You found you wanted to deepen your connection to the place you live. You found you want to broaden your sense of community.

Before the lockdown, it seems most…

What sets Subvert apart is my adherence to studying emerging artists.

Why do I pay so much attention to these artists, when there are masters to be studied? Why should you care about emerging artists? There are art historians and art museums bursting at the seams to tell you about Monet or Picasso, so why care about this?

Cultural relevancy.

Art should be a tool for critical engagement.

So much of how art has historically been presented to us has been wholly detached from the actual lives we all lead.

Art should be used to understand our world as it currently is. It should help us decide how we’d like to respond and interact with our circumstances and communities…

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We have many wellness practices at our disposal, and we all know the value of meditation by now. We’ve heard it a million times. This is especially so in this busy and distracting world. Taking a bit of time out of each day to focus on one thing like is good for our health and well-being. One thing can be as simple as breath, movement, a chant, an asana practice, etc. Or, of course, art. Sometimes though, meditation doesn’t quite do it for us. Or it does it for one part of us, but doesn’t translate into the rest of…

Arts interpretation is way easier, and way more central to who you are, than people think it is.

I think interpretation seems really hard, heady, intellectual. And it can be that. But shouldn’t necessarily be that.

So much of what matters in being an art-goer is simply being able to identify and articulate how something made you feel.

Art has a narrative, and it exists within a context that needs to be understood, yes. And the more familiar you get with art, and interpreting this narrative and context, the richer it becomes for you. …

Art is what makes us human, what sets us apart from our animal friends. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read:

this article on traits of being human
or this article on Europe’s oldest art
or this article on what makes us human

It follows to say that art is integral to our very being-ness.

I personally go to the arts to counter the sense that we are a numbed out culture that feels very little, or because we’ve been violently divorced from the feminine spirit that enlivens all things and art can be a counterbalance. But despite…

I talk at length about arts literacy in my course on arts appreciation. It is a term that I use to articulate the process of critical engagement with visual and performing art. It also speaks to building a personal practice of arts appreciation, tailored to the individual.

Arts literacy is the ability to articulate your experience of viewing and processing art; to contextualize the work within our raced, classed and gendered society; and to come to an informed interpretation and critique of visual and performing art.

What does it actually means to be literate in the arts?

People talk a lot about the importance and value of art. Yet very few…

Delia LaJeunesse

Artist, arts educator, & curator. I teach arts literacy through critical engagement with emerging art— an accessible way to make the arts relevant to the public

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store