Living abroad, I can’t help but notice how our perceptions influence and bias our interpretation of the world around us. Take our perception of time. As a North American, I feel that if I’m going to be more than ten minutes late to an agreed upon meeting time, then I need to call ahead and let someone know.* Living in Colombia, if I’m going to be ten minutes late, then I’m actually early and have at least an hour and a half before I need to to make that phone call. When living in Japan, if I were ten minutes late, I’d be better off throwing myself down a flight of stairs and calling from the hospital to very humbly apologize for not being early. Perception, man. We see the same thing and interpret it differently.
*Although, that won’t work in this Texas theater.
How we interpret the same things differently directly affects our lives. We could get religious or political, but between you and me, I’m just here for the paintings. I had a narrative in mind while creating the oil painting above. But what about you, what do you see? Two people, of course, but where are they? What’s going on? What’s happened before and after? Or maybe a more appropriate question is what do you imagine?, because perception can be just that.
I used a few social networks to pose the same questions. I asked folks for a title and/or their ideas about what the narrative could be. Here’s what others saw:
- Jolanda Ferguson: Long Way Home
- Tiffany Robinson: Just Ten Minutes – After a long, rainy, yet satisfying day, a couple hop on a train and tell each other, “let’s close our eyes for just ten minutes”.
- Yasu Takawa: The Wait – They’re in a waiting room, maybe a hospital, and these are the hours that stretch on and on and on.
- Davíd Garza: Last Rites – The guy kicked it and the girl’s saying her goodbyes.
- Jennifer Hensley: After Party – It was a long night of partying out… they ended up hanging out at a friend’s after party, listening to music and slowing down… the couch called to them.
- Ashley DeFranco: Respite – After hours of grueling travel by foot, a couple finds their resting place on a noisy, overcrowded bus.
Different interpretations of the same thing. I think that this is where I’m supposed to say that it’s important to see things differently, to link the differences in perception to the way we view others, their cultures, politics, religion, beliefs, etc. I think I should to tell you that it leads to understanding, empathy, and compassion. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to speak in metaphors and offer some chicken soup for your soul and encourage you to see with your heart. But I’ll save that for another post. Instead, I’ll plug my project. Maybe some perceive it as shameless promotion; I consider it a helpful reminder. In Ten More Than Ninety: The Hunert Faces Project, interpretations are one of the things I’m trying to explore. Someone sends me a picture with their idea, I interpret and paint it, and then it goes out into the world for others to contemplate and comment on. And then I’ll find a way to share those differing perceptions.
Here’s another interpretation of this painting:
- Jennifer McClain: Election Drama
Which is totally appropriate, especially if you see these two at the end, worn and weary. Of course, whether you see them as happily relieved and hopeful, or despondently resigned and concerned depends on your own imagination and interpretation.
Any thoughts on which of these titles fit best? Or give me your own title and narrative in the comments section.