Back in highschool, one of my English teachers used to give our class a short list of novels to choose from, for a reading assignment. Upon the due date, he provided us with a quiz tailored to the book we chose. I remember reading My Name Is Asher Lev, a work I rather enjoyed as it is about a young artist coming of age. Though I can't recall the specifics, there was one question from the quiz that asked what symbolism was represented behind a particular passage in the story. I thoughtfully wrote down my interpretation along with my other answers and handed in the quiz.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I got the quiz back and looked at the top of the paper to see a rather large, red D glaring at me. As I skimmed over my answers to find where I had gone so completely wrong, I came upon the aforementioned question of symbolism, to which another question was scribbled in the margin of the page- "Did you even read this book?" The incredulous words sent a surge of pins and needles up my spine. I felt like I was living on another planet, where the language abruptly changed and the new one was only known by some secret society which I was clearly not a part of. Hurt and angered by the remark, I thought to myself, "How dare he question me for having read the book, simply because I did not interpret it the same way he did!" Afterall, my experiences were my own and thus shaped my understanding of what I had read.

When people look at my art work, they often want to know the meaning behind it. When asked in the past, I would unhesitatingly offer my point of view, but I never felt completely comfortable in doing so. My paintings are narrative pieces using colors and symbols to tell a story, instead of words; it is a different, personal language. These days, I find myself less inclined to readily offer an answer regarding my art. I believe if my work cannot be understood the way I intended, I don't want to ruin somebody else's imagery with my answer (as I felt when I got the quiz back). Even more, I want people to spend time with my paintings, returning to the work because they are intrigued and compelled to further contemplate it. If you are willing to take the time to look at my art, you'll be rewarded with something you hadn't noticed before, either through color or perhaps an obscured detail, but not necessarily through words. And I promise I'll never give anyone a D for deriving their own meaning.