It is not an easy thing to explain. Artists don’t see things using only their eyes. The brain intrudes in the process. For instance, you are welcome to interpret the picture above any way you like. But the way I see it will be nothing like what you thought this picture is about. You probably see two very different girls here. There is actually only one. I know because, as the artist who drew both parts of this picture, I actually know where the ideas came from. There is only one girl in the picture. Dilsey Murphy, in front and wearing her Carl Eller Minnesota Vikings’ jersey, is based about 33% on the older of my two sisters. On the outside she is pragmatic, no-nonsense, and focused on living a family life that is as normal as possible. But the inner Dilsey is the African leopard-princess. She dreams of going on Tarzan adventures in the movie-jungles of the mind with a handsome male hero. She is fierce, loyal, and completely independent, not even needing the hero she adventures with. In fact, she often saves him.
This picture is about the idyllic parts of my childhood. The mother figure is doing a ritual dance. She is in tune with the music of daily life. She is closely attuned also to her responsibilities of stewardship in her society. Both children are nude. I cropped this picture so that it is not rude and showing Smiling Boy’s penis. But both children are bathed in nature and sunshine, not just because I am pro-nudism personally, but because clothing covers up innocence and joy.
This one is easier to interpret. I was an ESL teacher. I had students who spoke Spanish as their first language and students who learned to speak Mandarin Chinese as their first language. It makes for a classroom that becomes a cultural mixing bowl. You have to learn how to deal with people who are very different than you,, but are benefitting from learning English together.
Every picture the artist draws or paints has its own weirdness embedded inside it. The way the artist sees it is probably never the same as how the viewer thinks about it. And that is as it should be. But as a viewer of art, it is hoped that you will at least try to think about what the artist means to say..