Battling Comfortability

Comfortability is determined by your environment and the people who you are surrounded with. This class, The Art of Steve Prince, has further helped me realize that your creation of art, no matter the type, depends on what you are willing to share with everyone else. As a dancer, I am already aware of the dependency of my comfortability in relation to performances and dance classes. I have realized how my performance skills will be dependent on who I am performing for. For example, if I believe the environment is filled with a sense of competition, I am less willing to fully express myself because I fear judgement. It is assumed that when you dance those around you are judging you; however, this feeling of judgement is different from a competitive environment. My description of a competitive environment is when the dancers around me are trying to out-dance each other and pick out who is the “best dancer”; this would be the type of environment that would make me feel uncomfortable to be myself. My comfortability relies on a space where dancers are not only supporting and encouraging, but also open to giving feedback in areas where improvement is possible.

In one of my previous blog posts, I began discussing Dr. Broomfield’s lecture and how he pushed to go against stereotype. The way he suggested our class push against these stereotypes was through movement/dance phrases. It was this activity that initially brought up the term comfortability. Some students expressed not feeling comfortable, at first, with performing in front of the class because of reasons such as only being comfortable when they are intoxicated or when they are with their friends. Dr. Broomfield posed the question of why do we think we are only comfortable in certain environments or when being under the influence. He then gave an example of how some people will assume that a male identifies as gay if they strut because strutting is viewed as feminine in our society. A student stated they do not care what anyone else has to say about them, they are will express themselves regardless. The question that was brought up in response was, even with that mentality, will you feel safe to express yourself freely regardless of the setting. This question in particular could be tied into various forms of art such as dance, writing, and Steve Prince’s art.

It always surprises me whenever I enter an English class how much I shift my writing according to the audience, which is usually the professor. The first writing assignments are usually the “risky” ones because unless you took the class before, you are unfamiliar with the professors preference of writing style. Upon entering this class, and never having a class with Beth McCoy, I was unaware of how to unpack all of my thoughts. After last year, I became very concise and straight to the point with my writing because a professor told me I was too “flowery,” meaning I take too long to get to the point. Ever since then, I try to avoid giving unnecessary information. This semester, writing blog posts for Beth McCoy has changed my perspective a little on concise writing. She emphasizes the importance of unpacking everything you say, leaving as little up to interpretation as possible. I believe the reason she has students unpack their thoughts fully is because when we post on the blog, our posts are available for everyone to see, even outside of this class. I think that this class really taught me how to consider every audience when writing because it is not always known who will read it, therefore, it is important to make sure what I write on the page is exactly what I meant to say. Just as students in Dr. Broomfield’s class said that dancing in front of others made them uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable knowing that I had to post on a blog that everyone can read. This is because I never shared my writing with other people before so I felt overwhelmed and nervous, especially since I did not know how to write for several audiences at once. Overtime, I have been able to become more comfortable with knowing that people will see my thoughts and understanding that I have to be positive that I have unpacked all my ideas.

When thinking about Prince’s art, I first concluded that he did not create his art for an intended audience. This is because most of the art that I have analyzed over the course of this semester is similar in ways such as but not limited to: keeping the same light and dark aspect of his work, continuously enlargement the images of hands, feet and lips, etc. It was not until this moment, April 29, 2019, that my view shifted. As I was crafting this essay, I decided to ask Beth McCoy to unpack her comment in response to my previous blog post (linked above). I had posed the question of  whether or not Prince had an audience and I wanted to know why her response was yes. Instead of trying to explain to me in words why this was her response, she took me to Erwin to show me “Ripple” which is a piece that Prince, and the Geneseo community, created in the past. McCoy asked me what I noticed about this piece and I initially responded that I knew it was his work based on the enlarged hands and lips, and the black and white color scheme. She then pointed out the teddy bear, which I had overlooked, and asked me why it was significant. I could not understand why it was so significant until she explained that this bear is a part of the fountain that we have here at Geneseo. It was in this moment that Beth McCoy’s response of Steve Prince having an audience finally made sense to me.

I realized that Prince does have an audience, however, he does not stray away from his own beliefs and artistic values when creating art. He finds a way to incorporate aspects of a neighborhood/community within his work in order to create a relationship between the audience and the bear. I am not from Geneseo nor did I pay close attention to the fountain, besides the occasional cars crashing into it, therefore, the bear that was in “Ripple” did not jump out at me as it would for people who are from here or admire the fountain. Claire also pointed out to me that the “G” on that hat might symbolize Geneseo which I had also overlooked at first, but in noticing it I do agree with her interpretation. Now that I have a new knowledge on Prince’s work, I am able to admire it even more. The subtle details that he adds into his pieces to connect to his audience is also evidence of how long and how hard he has worked to get where he is, because I know that creating for different audiences is challenging. This also has shown how comfortable  he has become with his art which I think is important when trying to create. Having the ability to trust your style of work and incorporate a sprinkle of detail to appeal to your audience becomes easier with growing comfortability. I am able to say this due to my experiences, as previously listed, with dancing and blog posts. Art is expression and expression is comfortability, therefore, your comfortability will always determine how much your creation will reveal.

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