First, I am not the type to ever really start a conversation with a stranger. I like to keep to myself a lot of the time, but that does not necessarily mean I will not talk. When it comes to theatre and music I do like to converse, but I am rarely the one to start the conversation. If a person comes up to me and starts a conversation, I will gladly join in and start to converse back. It is just that one step before speaking that gets me nervous. The action of walking up to that person and saying the first word. I think it is because I fear rejection, or I fear the person I choose to talk with is not kind. As an actress who wants to perform for a living, I will face rejection more times than yes, so I need to get used to it and overcome it. I guess this exercise is the starting of truly overcoming it, as well as learning to connect and network with new people. Honestly, my goal is to be able to go up to a stranger and successfully have a good conversation with them.
Walking to the art gallery, I was thinking quite a bit about how I would start a conversation with someone whilst looking at an art piece. I was uncomfortable and nervous in the beginning of course, so when I got to the gallery, I chose to use one of my five conversations as a practice run with a friend. I walked through to the second room and was looking at a poster of cows and machines. At first, I didn’t see the whole picture, so I asked Esther what it was we were looking at, and she explained to me that it shows a circle of life for these group of cows. They are being raised and eventually are used to make shoes through a factory. The poster shows the process repeating. She and I conversed back and forth on where the process started on the poster and figured out what each step led to. I quickly realized conversing on an art piece was not as hard as I thought it would be. It felt like any old regular conversation I have had before.
After grabbing some snacks, I walked back into the gallery ready to complete this exercise. I started off looking at the art piece in the first room on the left. Heavily confused on the theme and what it was, I took a deep breath and asked the person next to me what he thought it was. Thankfully, He was on the same page I was and that made me feel comfortable! I always imagine that everyone just gets the artwork, but it was nice to see that there are people like me staring at an artwork and thinking “what is that.” We both examined the piece and pointed out things we knew. For instance, on the top of the piece was a small pink diagram of what we believed to be a female reproductive system. From that, we both had this sense that the art is deriving from a scientific kind of view and the rest of the piece displayed different parts of that reproductive system.
I moved back into the second room and looked around the room trying to piece it all together. I noticed these two ladies looking at the art piece with a cow tongue and saw one of them was writing down notes in her notebook. She was not the first person I saw writing down something in a notebook, so I was intrigued and went up to her and asked her if she was writing down notes on the art piece in front of us. She looked up and said yes. She needed to write down critiques on the art for her art class. I explained to her that I was interested in her opinion of the art since for me, I find it hard to analyze and grasp the meaning of artworks in general when I look at them. She started off by telling me that art can mean whatever I wanted it to mean. Then, before she shared with me her thoughts, she cautiously asked me if I was the artist. I chuckled and said no. She shared with me her opinions on the exhibit and we soon connected on the fact that the art in the gallery was not our style. We exchanged details on what our major was, and where we are from. I learned she is a nursing major, but also has an interest in interior design. I also shared with her the reason as to why I started our conversation. She thought the exercise was a very cool idea. She believes being able to communicate with anyone is important, so she was glad a professor here assigned it as an assignment. She is from Boston and explained to me that most people there do not openly communicate to strangers, so she is glad to be down here because it’s the opposite. I thanked her for being kind as she was the first stranger I talked to that night and gladly said it was no problem and told me to not worry because people want to talk.
I began to look around again and I found the artist of the second room and thought who better to talk to then someone who is looking forward to talking about their work. He was standing by one of his pieces and I went up to him and asked him if he was indeed the artist and he confirmed that he was. I asked him about his art, what it was and if there was any sort of meaning to it. He explained his work to be like a diagram. He said he loves diagrams, and illustrations explaining how something works, etc. So, this room works like a teaching diagram. He pointed at one of his pieces and told me that the reason certain parts of it were painted with bright colors is because they can be taken off the art piece. He said it helps with storing the art, but it also highlights the idea of the diagram he is illustrating. He was nice and very passionate when he talked about his work.
I turned around and found myself facing the cow poster again and realized that even though none of the art in the gallery was my style, I liked the cow poster the most. For my fifth conversation, I noticed next to me was a classmate of mine who I do not socialize with looking at the poster. I waited a bit before I decided to look at him and ask him what his observation was on the poster. He pointed out something that I had not realized the first time I looked at this poster. That it looked like a thought bubble in someone’s head like in one of those cartoons. I jokingly told him how the thought bubble looks a little dirty because the rims of the cloud were green and fuzzy looking. He also had a glass of wine in his hand so, I asked him what kind of wine it was and what his favorite is. From that we learned that we have the opposite taste in wine. He prefers dry whereas I prefer sweet wine. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant conversation!
This exercise was weird for me because I was forced to be out of my own comfort zone, however I learned that I can go up to someone and start a conversation with them in an area that is not my forte. Also, people can be nice! What worked best was beginning the conversation about the art and then noticing something about them, whether it was something they had on them or something they said and expanding the conversation from there. There was no rejection in the slightest at all that night. I am glad we did this, and I have a strong feeling it will benefit me in the future. What I hope to improve on next time is to not to think too much and just go and do right from the start. I do feel I am most suited for any sort of gathering that involves the subject of theatre. That is what I know best, and I love learning more about it and hearing thoughts on the subject. I have the best conversations with people after seeing a show. Everyone wants to talk and discuss after a show! I have never met, bonded and networked with more people than I have when I go to see a show. It’s awesome.