Dec 21 2011

#235 “Criticism”

From “Mezofoprezo” in Jacksonville, Florida

On a few previous occasions I have lamented the fact that so many artists who submit their work to WBS seem to be disappointed with the results of their own efforts. In my opinion, any and every artistic venture should be rewarded with unabashed praise. I can understand people’s reservations, though; when you create art, you take a great risk. You inherently place yourself at the mercy of the criticism of others, and for some strange reason, the opinions of people who judge our art (regardless of their authority, intellect or character) always seem to matter dearly to us. This is why I have always taken it upon myself to make sure that my comments about a contributor’s art are always positive and uplifting. I don’t do this for the sake of pity or to spare anyone’s feelings. I do it because it is right, and I do it because all art is worthy of admiration. And also, I do it because it’s easy. Hundreds of people from all over the world have sent me illustrations of wolves for no other reason besides the fact that I asked for it. How in the world could I be disappointed or critical of any picture that I receive? I simply don’t think it’s possible. Oh, and by the way, I have had people ask me before, “Do you really mean all the things that you say about the pictures on your website?” The answer to that question, my friends is “Absolutely.”

Also, the fact that I am not an artist myself allows me to appreciate the artistic attempts of others all the more. The collecting of art is way for me to live vicariously through a whole host of imaginative creators from all over the globe. I get to live a hundred lives in one. So to all of you out there who have been hurt or offended by the words of an overly harsh critic in the past, please allow me to offer my support and encouragement. Your work will always have a home here at wolvesbystrangers.com. Also, before I wrap things up, I think it’s only appropriate to send a special message of gratitude to “Mezofoprezo.” This wolf is far from “crappy,” my friend. It is unique and wonderful. It is playful and whimsical. It is has personality and flare. I love it. It is a representation of you, and you are a very special person.


Jun 28 2011

#59 “A tough nut to crack…”

From the_disability

At first when I began to show this picture to friends and family members, no one had a clue of what to make of it. While the details of the picture can be effortlessly assessed on a surface level, formulating a meaningful interpretation of the individual elements has proven to be nearly impossible. I searched and searched, but no one could offer any substantial clues. After a while, though, I realized that I was asking others to interpret this picture more than I was actually trying to interpret it, myself.

At this point, I locked myself in the crawl space underneath my home with only this illustration, 8 ounces of tap water for sustenance, my childhood Ouiji Board, and a tuft of wolf fur that I received as a gift from a Shaman in 1998 on a trip to Bhangarh, the most haunted place in India. The cave crickets and spiders proved to be a distraction at first, but 6 days later, I emerged from the crawl space dazed and disoriented but with what I feel is a true interpretation of this illustration.

During the time spent in isolation, I began to realize that this drawing is rich in symbolism, but the first aspect of the picture that I examined was the text. Since the drawing was mailed to me, I assumed that the words written to me personally. This seemed to conflict with the picture, seeing as how the wolf is spinning the plates and I am not. Then, though, I realized that the wolf is actually supposed to symbolize myself: the collector of the wolves. It is true that this project has become an activity and a process that very much resembles the act of spinning multiple plates. There are so many different aspects of this growing social experiment that need constant attention. These activities include updating the facebook page, sharing relevant information via twitter, responding to emails, writing and scheduling posts, advertising for new pictures, etc., etc. Please do not interpret this list of responsibilities as a complaint. It surely is not. In fact, it is a blessing, and it is the life that I have chosen for myself. But it is quite a bit of work to keep up with.

When I successfully interpreted this message delivered to me by the_disability, I was uplifted by its encouragement and positivity. But I soon became confused again. Why would this artist deliver this motivational message but then picture the wolf (me) naked with only censorship bars to cover the most private of body parts? Then it struck me: this is, in fact, the perfect representation of my actions as the wolf collector, the alphastranger, the lover of the lupine. For you see, my friends, in these posts I am both hidden as well as exposed. The words that I share are often soul-bearing ones that give great insight into this wolf-filled life that I lead. In many ways, I have stripped down before you to share with you the most intimate parts of myself. But in another way, my anonymity enables me to remain more or less a mystery to the vast majority of my readers. I am naked. I am clothed. I am bare. I am exposed. I am unseen.

Thank you, the_disability. I’m not sure if you had anticipated my ability to break this complicated code, but I have triumphed nonetheless. I always appreciate the opportunity to take another step on that difficult journey of self-actualization, and with your help through this illustration, I feel as if I have come to know myself all the more. Truly this illustration will forever serve as a mirror for my soul.