Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. -Frank A. Clark
It has been a long time since I have attended a critique session so I was a little nervous about Friday night's session at ClaySpace. Clay is a recent medium for me and I am still very much a newbie. Since I was also in charge of First Friday at ClaySpace, I wasn't even sure I could participate so I grabbed this crow mask without much thought. The group felt that the eyes needed to be shiny. My sculpture teacher, Jon Pacheco, suggested that I use black nail polish. When I went to the grocery store on Saturday, I was able to find some on clearance for 89 cents! It is amazing how this little change made a huge impact. I also learned how to tell if a piece is under fired (your tongue will stick) and indeed, this piece was under fired which explains why the beak looks the way it does. I loved the serendipity that occurred by the under firing and because this is an art piece and not a functional piece, it's all good. Hopefully it will sell. And because I know I will be asked if I don't include it, the mask is 6" w x 10"h.
I think the critique session at ClaySpace was good because Ken Maloney, who was leading did a great job, and the people attending were caring and giving. I know I spent time explaining to people before the event that a critique is not about ridicule and denigration. In our culture, the term "criticism" has acquired negative connotations so I understand people's apprehension about having their work critiqued. I found a few definitions about criticism that I found particularly useful. Edmund Feldman, noted art education, defines criticism as "Participation in informed talk about art." I think "informed" is the key word here. Morris Weitz, philosopher, defines criticism as "The use of words to facilitate understanding art." "Facilitate" is the key word here.
Saturday night, no one's work was deemed bad. Solutions to problems were freely given. Ken also asked each of us to share a favorite artist. So the session was also about learning a little more about the artists who make up ClaySpace. For me, the community is one of the best reasons to be involved. I am anxiously awaiting next month's critique session on March 7. And once again, the gallery will be open and refreshments will be served.
Have you participated in a critique session? If so, what was your experience?