Cookbook: Part 1

The process of keeping up to date is sometimes a difficult one for me, especially regarding the blog posts for this class. Every time I have attempted to publish a post I have felt distracted by the next class lecture and/or the reading for same. There are so many elements to this course that sometimes it makes my head hurt. When I saw Prince’s work “Peace of Mind” I liked the piece at first glance that I then decided to spend some of my “free time”
with it.

Image result for steve prince piece of mind

While Prince’s “Peace of Mind” is not an ode to my own individual experience I strongly related to what emotion I see in the figure in the work. I am no stranger to feeling overwhelmed by life, or an aspect of it, and that is what I see when I look at this piece. I see turmoil or conflict and a desire or need to be at peace and that is a large component to Prince’s work and this course overall. This piece was the first of Prince’s works that I looked at alone and analyzed without the help of the rest of the class. Although I have often felt confused and unable to put the pieces of this class together, I realized that I have indeed gained valuable tools from this class and this piece helped to ground me in that realization.  When I did, I felt able to use the tools I’ve been given to interpret “Peace of Mind” to what I believe is the approximate meaning that Prince intended for this work.

The composition of this image consists of a female presenting figure crouching over a book with a peace sign detailing the front cover while her hair ululates behind her. As with most art, my eyes were drawn to the focal point which I determined to be the peace sign on the book cover. The focal point is often the most important thing about the piece, or points to it, and led me to interpret this piece’s title, “Peace of Mind,” as a clever combination of two American expressions: “peace of mind” and “piece of my mind.” At first I only recognized Prince’s play on the homophones “piece” and “peace”  in regards to the former expression, but knowing what I do about the complexity of Prince’s work, I sought other readings of this piece of art. Using an article from Writing Explained, I was able to recognize the latter expression as something Prince may have also been subtly imbuing this work with.

“Peace of mind” is defined as “calm, inner tranquility, characterized by the absence of uncertainty or turmoil.” Meanwhile “piece of my mind” can be defined as “a frank summary of one’s thoughts on the matter at hand, usually delivered in a stern tone or out of frustration.” To try to determine whether or not the subject has peace of mind I looked to the figures that make up her hair. These hair-like figures are depicted in motion, writhing wildly from the primary subject’s head like Medusa’s snakes. I have inferred that due to these figures’ restless presence that they symbolize uneasy thoughts or noisy outside influences. With those traits in mind, the figures could represent non-peaceful thoughts attempting to penetrate the subject’s mind or the unsettled, warring society that the subject lives in.

My initial reading of this piece was that the subject does have peace of mind, but struggles against her own thoughts and inner turmoil. Another possible reading of this piece is that the figure in Prince’s work does not have peace of mind, and is instead trying to figure out how to give the world a piece of her mind regarding said deficiency of peace. No matter how you interpret “Piece of Mind,” the same theme should stick out for all viewers, that is, peace versus conflict. My main point is that if you feel overwhelmed by something, sometimes all it takes to understand it better is to take some time alone with it, to make your peace with it. I know Dr. McCoy has been encouraging us to be thinkING about the course material and how it all connects all semester long, and I definitely know how colossal of a task that can be. This blog post is an expression of me trying to gain peace of mind while conveying a piece of my mind. The experience of writing this blog post has been incredibly therapeutic and eye-opening. I feel much more satisfied knowing that I was able to take a piece of art and advance my knowledge of the subject using the tools I have been unknowingly collecting throughout the semester.

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