Many artists, knowingly or unknowingly, believe that simply deciding on a powerful message is enough to make their art powerful. With this mindset, they don’t take the necessary steps to communicate the message to the audience. The artist understands the ideas and the connections being made in the piece, so the audience is expected to as well. This unfortunate assumption stops what could be inspiring pieces of art short of their potential.
Consider this: a choreographer has an idea for an exciting story and a powerful message about modern day relationships. The choreographer decides that a scarf will be a symbol of love, and the way it passes between the characters will be symbolic of their relationships. This is an interesting concept for a piece, and could be very inspiring to an audience. As the choreographer begins to create the piece, he/she knows that the scarf must be an integral element and creates the movement around the scarf. The end product is a dance in which the scarf interacts with the dancers and draws most of the focus throughout the piece. But the audience walks away without perceiving the powerful message. What they saw was a piece about a scarf, not a piece delivering a powerful message about relationships that could have even been extremely relevant to their lives.
In a separate performance of the same concept, the audience feels the sadness and distress of the dancer that lost the scarf, the timidity of accepting the scarf, and the warmth of sharing it. They have had the opportunity to view relationships in a way that they normally wouldn’t. Their view of the world has been challenged and they were made to feel something. The audience was given this wonderful, exciting experience because the artist in this situation asked one simple question, “how will my audience perceive what I have created?”
If a group of people left a show and no one was inspired by it, that doesn’t mean that audience was entirely full of idiots. More than likely, the people watching were expected to see something that wasn’t visible. By creating art without considering the audience’s perception, we are robbing them of the wonderful, inspiring experiences that art can give them. If we want to give our audiences these experiences, we have to connect with them and communicate clearly with them. We have to find the clarity of intention in our work and make choices that support our intention. We have to ask ourselves whether every individual moment serves the purpose of the piece of art as whole, and take the responsibility of changing what doesn’t. By being thoughtful and clear about our purpose, our art can communicate with and inspire everyone. Art that is made to communicate with people has the power to inspire people.