“For Mary Roy,
who grew me up.
Who taught me to say “Excuse me”
before interrupting her in Public.
Who loved me enough to let me go.
Why are dedications, so commonly seen for books, films, and even dance and performing arts so rarely seen in the visual art world? I love reading those coded, heartfelt thanks that personalize the work and bring with it the appreciation that the creative person behind it could not have done it on their own. As much dedication as one has to one’s creative pursuits, there are lovers, parents, mentors, patrons and a host of others who inhabit the artist’s world, shape his or her life, and help in the achievement of incredibly difficult dreams.
This is no less true for dedicated visual artists, so why no dedications? Is it the moldy myth that the artist is a lone being, toiling in solitude, neither helped nor influenced by others, sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus?
I dedicated Keening, a book of drawings about illness, loss, and grief to my late sister. As far as exhibitions go, I have only dedicated one of my solo shows — to the memory of my father, who died quite suddenly about two weeks before the opening. Why have I failed to do this again? It seems strange that the absence of dedications never caught my attention before, and I am going to make a note of it for my next major exhibition.
I believe a brief expression of gratitude is never inappropriate. What would be your reaction to seeing an artist’s dedication of an exhibition, perhaps noted in press materials and/or the invitation and gallery write-up? Have you come across this before?