Monday, May 11, 2009

Critique of My Work

I had mentioned that Art Saint Louis was forming up critique groups before, but hadn't brought it up again since then. It has been a real asset and I am honored to have the opportunity to get feedback from and look at works by so many great artists of differing levels and disciplines. My group has decided to critique one person's work at a time to get a better feel for their approach and what they do. I was the third artist to go and tonight was my turn.

Tonight was very informative and taught me a lot about myself that I hadn't before placed because I am too close to it. A fellow artist pointed out how I had set a very traditional oil painting on the floor leaned against a pedestal upon which I had placed an empty frame and he mused upon my treatment of the two and how I had approached it so differently than so many people who would have elevated the oil painting. (It wasn't that I meant to devalue the painting, but I didn't have much space in which to place things.) Another artist pointed out that an underlying current in all of my work that ties it all together is the idea of value, whether that be time, money, content, idea, relational, social, personal or an even more direct exploration. I hadn't really noticed this or examined it near so much but she is right - much of my work is about value and how we determine it.

She then went on to encourage me to find and question for myself the value that I place on different things: time, idea, concept... I must admit that this is hard for me because so many of the distinctions are blurred, but it is a worthy pursuit. And in regards to what I hold in the highest esteem, I would say that money ranks well below time which ranks slightly below idea, although sometimes they are close to par with one another and sometimes time ranks higher depending on its relative scarcity to me at that moment. All rank below integrity - I am most drawn to that which I feel is honest and genuine; I think this is part of why I run the risk of being too direct at times. I do not want to overemphasize the quick, clever idea and thus run the risk of being gimmicky, but I still want for my message to be accessible. So then I must ponder: how do I balance this and what is most important to explore and convey? Is what happens behind the scenes in regards to me showing my work an integral part of this and should it be brought to light to maintain or enhance that integrity?

At any rate, the evening gave me a lot of food for thought and I have not yet even begun to explore it in any depth. I am very grateful for the input from all of the other artists who were able to attend. This sort of feedback reminds me of why it is so important to get feedback from others about your work, even after one has left the educational institution - it provides so many insights that are all too easy to overlook because of the proximity and interconnectedness to one's own work.

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