A.R.T. Confidential, an inside look at a hidden world: The Name Game

In the excitement of the few days prior to their show the artists rolled along with our Tracker. All the paintings that would be in the show set on the floor of the gymnasium, their backs resting against the walls.

As a group they moved from painting to painting, stopping at each, the painter of that particular piece working out a title.

In most art programs for folks who are quadriplegic, many of them nonverbal, the art therapist comes up with the titles.

The A.R.T. leap is to treat the artists as any other painter and in this of course they name their own work.

It is easy. So simple. All you need is to understand you cannot name their work for them. Using an alphabet board, the letters arranged in six horizontal rows. The Tracker, completely dialed in with the artists, can briskly touch one line then the next the artist signaling yes if the letter they want is on that line.

If an artist is not good at spelling they get at the words they are after. J N G L is Jungle, the green painting made of months of laser driven traceries, the greens in hues barely different one from the other.

The Tracker asks, “Jungle?”

Artist signal: Yes.

“The Jungle?”

Artist signal: No.

“Just, ‘Jungle’?”

Artist signal, a big, very pleased: “Yes.:

“You want J N G L, or the normal way you spell jungle? J N G L?”

Artist signal: No.

“The normal way jungle is spelled? J U N G L E?”

Artist signal: Yes.

I don’t know about you but this difference, between ‘Jungle’ and ‘The Jungle’ is so excellent, Jungle having more punch, more in your face immediacy than ‘The Jungle’.

At A.R.T. we don’t get our fingers in the artist’s creative pie. It is all theirs, start to finish. The artist know they don’t need their painting to have a title if they don’t want it to have one. They can call it ‘Untitled’.

In this autonomous creative control paintings get named: ‘Be Yellow’. And: ‘Bugs on the Windshield’.