It is that one word that can make even the strongest-willed artist squirm with anxiety: critique. It not only forces the artist to confront their own work head on, but also addresses how viewers interpret it as well. Some may see it as a necessary evil, but for me I approach it as a helpful tool to my art making process.
Critiquing is an exchange of information. The artist presents, the viewers question, the artist responds, the viewers respond. When critiquing another artist’s work some of the first questions I think to myself are “What am I looking at?” and “How does it make me feel?” These two questions alone can generate a substantial amount of information just through general observation. Materials, scale, location, color, relationships between different pieces, my emotional response. Without even hearing a word from the artist’s mouth I have produced a rough sketch of what I think their thought process is.
It is up to the artist to articulate their work clearly, and the viewer to respond constructively if the work did not meet the artist’s interpretation. I have been in many critiques where the phrase “I like it.” gets thrown around too often. I feel there needs to be elaborations from both sides in order for a critique to be beneficial. Otherwise, you’re just talking rather than responding.
For me personally, my responses tend to focus heavily on the materiality of the work. If a piece of art is not being conveyed in the manner in which the artist had stated, then I try to offer up possible alternatives using unconventional materials. It not only helps to break away from confines of traditional art making, but also opens up new outlets for presenting their work.
Overall, critiques can be rather intimidating, but they are extremely helpful as well. I was always told that the one thing that every artist miss the most when they graduate from school is the ability to have their work critiqued. It is something that I take full advantage of, and I look to my peers to give me the constructive feedback that I need.
I tend to think of myself as an organized person, though it may not necessarily show on the surface. While the first couple steps into my studio may feel like a bombardment of junk, I assure you there is a method to the madness.
I’m quite used to having limited space to navigate in my work environment. Prior to having my own studio I produced all of my work in my bedroom on a queen sized mattress; so I enjoy working with what I have. That’s probably the main reason why I tend to fill my studio up so much. At the moment, I’ve been utilizing a lot of boxes with my work, so the center of my studio has become a kind of “holding ground” for the boxes I’ve been collecting. This also provides a nice path to walk around in my space. To the left of the pallet is a drying station where I pour materials over items and let them set to dry. For convenience, I’ve run my power line around the perimeter of my studio and have it stationed to the right of the entrance so I can place my laptop next to it. It does, however, force me to do the limbo every time I enter my studio. To the left of the entrance is where I have all of my tools stationed.
Since hoarding is playing a primary role in my art, I obviously needed someplace to put all of the junk that has been donated/acquired without it interfering with my work process. Outside of my studio is a makeshift drop off area for donated items. So if you have any junk you would like to donate, just toss it in the pile outside studio 6 on the 2nd floor. That’s pretty much the layout of my work environment. It may not be ideal for others, but it’s become my second home.
I tend to be rather picky when it comes to what I read, and unless it pertains directly to my work I won’t even bother. However, there have been a couple text that heavily influenced the trajectory of my work and continues to inspire me today.
First off is the book titled Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949-1962. If you are interested in unconventional materials and processes, this is a phenomenal art book to check out. While I was finishing the last year of my undergraduate degree this book was a great tool. It helped better my understanding of how mundane materials could possess an immense emotional impact on a viewer. It is available on Amazon if you are wanting to purchase it.
Next is the book titled I Am Plastic, Too: the next generation of designer toys. To be honest I wasn’t expecting a book about vinyl toys to have such an impact on my work. What’s great about it though is that it takes an item that is so reproducible, vinyl toys, and presents them in a manner that accentuates each toy with it’s own personality. This idea of showcasing mundane items that are highlighted by their own individual identities is something I strive for with my own art. Again, you can pick this book up on Amazon if you’re interested.
Lastly, and most recently, is a psychology article written by the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. The article is titled Hoarding Disorder (Compulsive Hoarding): A Comprehensive Literature Review and Professional Training to Prepare Clinicians to Treat Problematic Hoarding. This is a wonderful overview into my current interest of Compulsive Hoarding. This article covers in-depth the different forms of hoarding, their association with brain and behavioral disorders, and possible treatments. It’s not only very interesting to read, but it is also easy to read; which is always a plus. The article is roughly 124 pages, and also includes a PowerPoint slide presentation at the end. If you are interested in checking it out, here is a link to the PDF: Click
While I tend to pick up inspiration from a variety of sources, these are a few text that have held bearing with my work; both past and present.
To be honest, this is pretty much how my process works.
First off, my apologies for the shit images; I’m still working on getting a new camera and my cell phone is from the 80’s. For this week’s prompt we are to present a couple of our failed works; so here are two experiments that I completed during my first few weeks here, and why I consider them to be more of a failure than a success.
I completed this piece my first week here at CCAD. Like everyone else, I was struggling to find a route that would help my art to evolve and grow. So, with no direction, I fell into my comfort zone and began constructing pieces that were almost identical to what I had been producing during my undergrad. Thrift store frames, stretched leather, paint drips; check. Luckily I was able to get my mind off that path and focus more on experimenting and trying new processes.
With this piece, while there are some aspects that I do enjoy, overall it failed to pull at me emotionally. It felt way too forced and again very reminiscent of my undergrad pieces. I do appreciate that I began exploring the use of garbage in my work, but it fell a little flat. While each piece has its pros and cons, they all are stepping stones for something much greater to come. Can we really call them failures then?