When Art is Confusing

Sometimes I feel ignorant and judgmental when at an art museum. I like to understand and learn from art, not be confused and frightened by it. Am I naive?

The Mattress Factory

It’s famous, it’s in Pittsburgh, so I went. And I just don’t get it.

Florescent dots on mannequins. “Road kill” of light bulbs and tacks strewn on the floor. A terrifying room of creepy doll things on drugs. Flower pots that aren’t merely what they seem; by wiring them with speakers that play nature sounds, they are so much more.

Mattress Factory Art

Photos courtesy of Mattress Factory press kit and exhibit information

Storm King Sculpture Park

In New Windsor, NY this is truly a park, with stunning landscaping, and sculptures placed throughout the campus. Some are incredible feats: building a stone wall without mortar; just the skill to adjust and place stones.

Storm King Sculpture Park stone wall

Photo from the Storm King website

But I frankly didn’t understand the majority of the other pieces–even with the recorded tour on the tram. From what I understand, sculpture is supposed to be in harmony with its space; and so many of these pieces felt plunked down.

Storm King Sculpture Park

Photos from the Storm King website

So yes, this is a cranky and snarky post. Sorry about that, but you want the real experience and my real perceptions: they’re not always glowing.


Do YOU understand this art? Its role in the art world?
If so, please educate me. Seriously, teach me. I’m fine with disliking, but I don’t like not understanding.

Disclosure: thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for providing complimentary entry to the Mattress Factory.

One Response


perhaps creative expression is not about understanding a specific message or meaning but creating something that offers an experience or asks you to question what you understand or expect—that can be interesting, confusing, meaningful, or even disturbing. certainly curious to be given a glimpse into another individual’s perspective. i enjoy your frankness.
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