"So what visual image would you pick to represent love?," he asked.
"I was thinking of a mother and child," she said.
"That's a cop-out," he quickly answered.
Later that same evening:
"What do you think of that portrait of the young African-American man flipping us the bird?," she asked me.
"Well, I think the artist is trying to comment on the attitudes of youth in America today," I answered, trying to be diplomatic.
"I think it's offensive," she said with total candor.
"Yes, it's supposed to be, but I also think it's a bit cliched," I answered back.
I share these two conversations from my Friday evening because they both touch on an interesting topic: originality. I suspect that most of us try very hard to be original in expressing the values and ideas we hold dear. Yet, more often than not, we fall short of the goal, reaching instead for images that are familiar, expected, cliched, or sentimental. On the other hand, every new work is the artist's own spin.
So how important is originality? Is an image that's not original still valid as a work of art? How do we avoid becoming cliched or sentimental? Is there a way to cultivate a unique vision? Your thoughts? I'd like to start a conversation about this because I'm struggling with this very thing.