Final critique of fall semester.

After my first two years in the MFA program I’ve finally found myself again in my artwork. There is something about knowing the way things feel when they’re truly going the way they should that brings home just how much I wasn’t “feeling it” for the past year or so.

I’ve finally gotten to the point where my critiques go smoothly.  Response to my work is generally in-line with my current intent, suggestions are appropriate (indicating correct reception of content) and points made for further consideration are applicable and therefore, thought-provoking. Finally.

I attended my final painting critique of the semester this evening. I’ve come away from the experience (and from this term as a whole) feeling pretty confident that despite all the work I have ahead of me, I’ve laid a fairly decent foundation from which I can build.

Some points from my critique:

The very nature of my presentation of the specific pieces which are tiled actual creates a pattern regardless of the fact that I consciously left the pattern out of the works themselves. I immediately conjured up visions of Do-Ho Suh’s Who Am We despite not thinking of this work for years. It’s another beautiful example of “where ever you go, there you are” because this was not at all intentional and yet… there I am… again… This phenomenon has been somewhat annoying in the past yet somehow it’s started to become rather comforting this past few months.

One of our visiting professors suggested that I juxtapose some sort of harsher element (like gravel) with the butterflies in Casualties so that the fact that these insects are “road kill” is more clearly communicated. Additionally, the extent to which I use multiples was questioned – how many individual pieces are necessary? (More thought needed in order to answer this but my instinct says that multiples are good, especially in light that they create a type of pattern on their own.)

Casualties, 6"x9" each, gouache on paper

Another point made was the obvious connection between the act of seeing in my process with the act of being seen and consciousness of being seen (Lacan) in the imagery themselves. I’ve been reading about this but have not applied the concept in quite the same way. I’ve only recently become aware of the importance my own process has in my current work. This does, however, make me doubly interested in reading James Elkins’ The Object Stares Back again. Elkins is deeply influenced by Lacan and my major professor encouraged me to read 4 of Elkins extensive collection of books the first year I entered the program. (Elkins is visiting our university in the spring and I couldn’t be more excited!!!)

Several interesting comments were made by fellow grad students which facilitated more introspective discussions and challenges to think about. Of particular prominence was an observation that the birds (specifically those in the bird portraits series) became something more because they were dead – that this some how elevated their status and made them objects. (This deserves more thought than I’ve had time this evening so I will be coming back to this later.)

Bird Portraits (not the title but this is how I've been addressing this piece), 6"x8" each, graphite

And still another comment worthy of note made the observation that by taking a bird, which is commonly seen as a symbol of freedom, and depicting it as something dead, I am actually containing or negating the general associations we have with the symbolism of a bird. Part of me does not entirely agree with this theory yet I believe there is more to be explored within this line of thought. To me, death is the ultimate containment of life and “freedom,” so – logically – depicting anything in death would have the same exact connotation (not that I am necessarily making this happen).

I have a lot to contemplate and work out. For the moment my mental faculties are exhausted and it’s time for some restorative measures… i.e. cuddling on couch with hubby watching Ghost Adventures on Netflix until I go to sleep.

*fist bump*

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