Do any of y’all have trouble talking to other people about art (your own or other people’s)?
‘Cause, I have a confession to make: I have trouble talking about my own art with other people.
I know, seems weird, right? Here I am blabbering on and on at y’all about art this and art that—and I totally run with a bunch of artists—but I still have trouble.
I’m not really shy about my art (actually, I probably have an exhibitionist streak the width of the Mississippi with all the talking and showing I do), but—the problem is—I don’t want to bother people with discussing my art: to be critiqued, to just chat about my art, to not be worried that they’re saying nice things because they don’t want to hurt my feelings or because they’re my friends.
What made me want to talk about this issue is that I was looking at Pikaland‘s online classes, and one of them is a portfolio review. Now, in addition to not having $180 to have someone essentially tell me everything I’m doing wrong (or right, I guess…I can be optimistic), the entire proposal seemed problematic to me: how is that single person going to be qualified to tell you how to fix your portfolio when the art world (annoying though it is) is a diversified space with diversified aesthetics? Isn’t that kinda the point of the art world? That there is room for more than one kind of art or one kind of aesthetic?
Some of this is also coming up because Friend H and I were talking about this artist-critic relations with bunnies piece.
Friend H, who is a new friend, mentioned that she has never had a single good critique. <–Now, I don’t know what she means by “good,” but I do know that the very act of judgement, whether good or bad, can make artists nutty.
Another friend of mine, Friend L, has had this problem, and I was there for the total beat-down she received. Not pretty, and largely not justified. Instead of just asking her to conceptualize her pieces for them (really, one person in particular was the culprit), it was like a verbal assault. I’m the first to admit that Friend L doesn’t really think about her concepts, but they are there. If you speak with her, they are completely apparent; she’s just not a very verbal person.
Maybe I’m just left-field-nutty here, but a portfolio review really shouldn’t be about the critic’s aesthetics; portfolio review should be about encouragement and trouble-shooting—helping the artist to verbalize and conceptualize and, then, enact those things together.
Maybe that’s what Pikaland’s portfolio review is doing; I kinda don’t think it sounds that way, but maybe they simply aren’t that effective at articulating their class goals. *shrugs*
But, in art school (yes, the dreaded art school), critiques were never just one person operations; they were, minimally, four people—and that was usually end-of-the-semester critiques and they were usually professors that you hadn’t ever had.
That was completely nerve-wracking.
We actually had to take an entire Critique Class where all we did was make art and critique each other’s art. Talk about freaking uncomfortable. <–And, this was with a complete mixed-bag of talent, concept, questionable intelligence, and obnoxious personalities.
So, yeah, the point (Heeeeeeeeeeere, point! Nice, point! Come back to me, and I’ll give you a cookie, point!) is that—I don’t know—there should always be local critique groups for artists, and ya know, easily found groups both online and locally. Groups that are not stuck behind the walls of art schools or relegated to face-less (literally or metaphorically) portfolio reviews from a distance.
‘Cause, ya know, it’s difficult being an artist that moves to a new area where they don’t really know that many people—even if they do know a bunch of artists in the area. <–It’s not like we sit around critiquing each other in our ‘jammies or something, but it’s also hard when you’re not really friends, per se, with the other local artists (though some are friends). You don’t want to offend anyone, but you want there to be honesty in their opinions, and you want to be honest when you vocalize your own.
And, I’m not even certain that this all is making sense anymore, so enough of my whinging. For now, I leave y’all with this one question: To critique, and to be critiqued, honestly and fairly or to live in ignorance?