I love toys. There are toy people and there are game people in this world, and their minds and temperaments are not the same. I am most definitely a toy person. I resonate strongly with Pixar people in this regard. And now that my kids are older and I have no one but myself to buy toys for, it’s all I can do to keep from buying way more than I can ever justify—even as a children’s librarian.
It’s just that toys can be so brilliant: little gems of human wit and invention that you can pick up and do something with. How cool is that!?! I love paintings, but let’s face it—you can’t play with a painting except in your mind. And books? I’m all about books, but I do have a special fondness for truly imaginative toy books. (For example, Amanda Leslie’s Play Kitten Play. 10 Animal Fingerwiggles.)
I suspect that the toy urge is kin to the “making-faces-at-babies” urge (another impulse I regularly indulge). You do something silly with your face and you get a reaction—not unlike “What happens if I push this button?” really. Simple and gratifying.
So let’s take a break. I’ll stop talking and you stop reading and let’s all go find something cool to play with.
It’s inevitable. You’re teaching an introductory course in (pick one) art history, poetry, music, film, or literature and a student will ask, “Aren’t you reading too much into all this? Do you really think artists are that deliberate?” It’s a sort of skepticism left over from society’s head-on collision with modern art, and folks’ lingering suspicion that they’re being conned. (I had a teacher once who referred to it as the “My-Dog-Could-Do-Better School of Art History.”) You try to tell the student, “Yeah. It’s all there. They really do think about this stuff.” But it was Tyra Banks and host of middle-school girls who gave me the metaphor I needed.
Take a look a celebrity walking the red carpet on Oscar Night. How many choices do you think she made when getting ready?
Was it just the dress? (You mean this old thing?!)
Did she just put on whatever underwear happened to be clean? (Or did she consider the possibility of wardrobe malfunctions and plan accordingly?)
Did she open her jewelry box and pull out…whatever? (Necklace? Bracelet? Earrings?)
What about the shoes? (Could there be more to it than “black or brown?” )
Any thought given to makeup?
And why would anyone care about all that?
As with fashion, you want your art to look “put together,” and that means thinking about it, and making choices. And once you make those choices, someone’s going to judge them, and interpret them, and maybe be inspired by them.