An experiment and a challenge
Two springs ago I took a wonderful art class about creative process and developing oneself as an artist. At the end of class students were required to present their portfolios in a formal presentation, and then received a review from our two professors and one artist from the community.
In my review I was told to be more passionate. Of all the criticisms I expected to receive, it was not this. I expected a criticism of my technical style, or the lack of cohesion in my work. Instead, I was told that my concepts came across clearly and that I was able to articulate ideas well, but I needed to make my work more personal. They said, your ideas are universal; what are YOU struggling with? They also said, make art for you. Which means, let go of wondering if your ideas come across and let go of worrying about whether it is beautiful. Be less utilitarian. Your art doesn't need a purpose.
Essentially, I am a contemporary artist. I want to convey ideas. I want to make art that comments on society. Ideas are important to me. Change is important to me. Feeling like I'm DOING something is important to me. I feel like I can never do enough. I am torn between the worlds of art and the environment, and (though if someone else said this to me I'd be appalled because I firmly believe art is valuable, whether or not it has a message), I feel torn between an "unworthy" calling and a worthy one. Somewhere along the line I figured, if I can make art about social change, then that will be enough. Then I can justify my art.
When I received this critique I thought, is that really necessary? Do I really need to say what I'm struggling with? I was pleased to hear my ideas come across clearly as that is what I want from my art. So- no action needed, right? However, I greatly respect the professors I had in that class, and the critique wasn't an off-hand comment made by one of my reviewers- all of them had the same criticism. Additionally, making art about ideas and about social change, though good, is a way to distance myself from my art. It's a way to not risk being seen. It is safe. And perhaps if I make my art more personal it will be more effective. It might be a good growth opportunity. So here we are. If being personal and taking risks is what I need to do to improve my art, then I should give it a try. I should free myself from having to say things. There is a value to saying things with art, of course, but I want to push myself as an artist and if that's what it takes then I'd like to try it.
So starting today, this is my new experiment. The experiment will exist on this blog and not my current blog on my website because my new portfolio is my professional site and the link to my new website is on my business card. I don't know that I need new professional connections to be reading about my feelings or love life. Also, I'm pretty confident that no one is reading this blog, so it's a way to practice risk-taking, and to practice sharing more personal art, without really sharing it. It's a baby step. I'm going to be posting personal art here and am going to practice being comfortable with sharing a new kind of less-curated art. It will also be a venue for my musing on art, artistic process, personal art v. not personal art, etc.
So that's all. Here goes.