Making Meaning / by Chris Maynard

 Sharp-tailed grousefeathers

Sharp-tailed grousefeathers

Feathers are perfect by themselves so why make art with them? I do it to add meaning: to direct the viewer to ideas they can relate to. Giving meaning abstracts from the thing viewed.  The meaning is not the actual object seen. It involves assumptions which can be wrong. Here’s an example: These sharp-tailed grouse feathers are not grown by the bird to be images of big-breasted love demons, nor deer prints, nor heart-lipped faces. They just add to the bird’s camouflage helping it hide.  I like to remember that the viewer’s mind gives meaning, not the thing viewed. The things themselves are just innocent participants of the mind’s workings. Whether it is the color of someone’s skin, the way people dress, or how we see a feather, seeking meaning helps make sense of the world. It is a very human quality.