Brain Pickings

How Do I Explain It To My Parents: Abstract Artists on the Art


If you’re in the creative field, chances are, the exact nature of your work is a prolific source of confusion for your parents. And for those of us on the more eclectic, cross-disciplinary end of the creative spectrum, it often elicits a self-conscious string of ummm-ing and wellllll-ing.

How To Explain It To My Parents is a series of short documentaries that combat the dreaded question head-on, by making nine prominent abstract artists do precisely that — sit down with their actual parents and explain

The artists range from a video remixer to a beer artisan, but as they diverse as their domain of creativity may be, the expression on their parents’ faces — loving yet utterly perplexed — seems universal across all of them.

Set in an almost prison-like grey room, the conversations light up the drab backdrop with their unique dynamic, both touching and humorous in their futility.

The brainchild of Lerner & Sander, the Dutch team who brought us The Procrastinators, and once again commissioned by, the series is a charming exercise in trying to explain abstract art in concrete terms and, for the most part, failing. But the beauty of it lies in the simple human truth that it bespeaks — whatever we may do for a living and however poorly our parents may understand it, they love us anyway.

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