The artist’s point of view was somewhat different, as to be expected. Lauren stands before me with inaugural pride, exclaiming the great news of her latest and greatest work of art with smiles from here to Julliard and back. “Look, Mommy, isn’t it beautiful? I made butterflies and an angel, just like I told you I would!”
Yes, indeed the shirt that Lauren has designed is beautiful. Not only is the shirt gorgeous, but the self-esteem and confidence that she gained from this act of self-expression is also beautiful to me. I love the fact that my daughter knew that she would not be in trouble or punished in any way for contributing to the beautification of her world, and thus our collective world.
Now, of course we had our little discussion about getting permission before decorating things, people, and places in the future, but there’s something positive to be said for an artist’s inspiration. I breathed and braced myself. Then I called for backup.
My mother answered on the first ring. I didn’t lose it or get upset, for several reasons, mostly because as a writer I understand a few things about this whole phenomenon. Just a few. When the muse grabs you, it’s kind of out of your realm of control, what happens next. However there’s a much more important explanation for why I didn’t become totally incensed at this childhood display of artistry and brilliance, which will unfold below. I promise.
I also know a little bit about some of America’s greatest pop artists. Many of them have used a variety of unconventional media in their most celebrated work, so for Lauren to do the same is not so strange after all. Several well-known pop artists come to mind when I think of nonconformity in their choices of media and style.
Andy Warhol, known throughout the world as founder of the American Pop Art movement in the 1950’s, comes to mind. When he began creating large silk-screen prints of popular American commercial products like the Campbell’s soup can and Coca-Cola, it took the world by storm for several reasons. Not only was his art beautiful, it was unique and bore the mark of genius. Today, long after Warhol’s death, his works are still hailed as fine examples of American pop culture.