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.