I survived spring critique week! Here’s what went down.
First, I want to tell you I recently watched a TED talk by Amy Cuddy about the impact of body language on self confidence. I was a bit intrigued by the research presented about power so I decided to give it a try for critiques. So basically I spent 4 minutes before my critique standing in a stall in the women’s restroom posed like Wonder Women. Surprisingly, I didn’t laugh and most importantly, I actually do think it helped me get focused.
My presentation went well. I have a strict 5 word max policy (per presentation slide) so I predominately showed images of recent work and explained the context of each. There was one low point when my voice did this weird monotone underwater thing because my mouth was dry. At some point I improvised a joke about the laser pointer I randomly decided to use during my talk. One person laughed out of pity. I actually love awkward presentations moments because they highlight the roller coaster range of emotions you share with the audience.
WHAT’S AT STAKE HERE?
Most of the feedback I received was really insightful. The work I presented represented a big shift in my practice and I’m the first to admit that it is far from fully resolved. I knew that there would be many completely valid questions about my new direction. Several faculty members encouraged me to clarify my position on the issue I’m exploring and challenged me to focus on simply conveying that message. I’m in a research heavy phase so I’ve spent too much time just trying to wrap my head around the big picture, but I agree that a position is needed. One question that has resonated with me most came from my 21st Century Aesthetics professor, art historian Debra Parr. She asked “What’s at stake here?” I didn’t have an answer for her at the time and I can’t say I totally do now. The potential and power of that question has stuck with me. What is at stake? Why does this work matter? What do I have to say? Why is my voice important?
After critiques I received a copy of all the feedback forms that were collected from faculty and peers that attended my crit. I find these hand written thoughts to be incredibly helpful, and I find myself rereading them when I feel disoriented and overwhelmed in my practice. It’s hard to see beyond the busy schedule and heavy workload of grad school sometimes and realize how lucky we are to be a part of it. Everyone’s critique experience is unique and I’m sure some people were more happy with the feedback they received than others. Ultimately, being able to share your work with a roomful of artists willing to give your their attention and feedback is a rare and amazing thing.
This summer I’ll be spending most of my time in my studio working on an independent study. My goal for this independent study is to make a bunch of work that helps to to hone in on the materials and concepts that I’ll be working on for Thesis. But first, I still have the final few weeks of class, and I’ll be helping several current students get their work ready and installed for their Thesis Exhibition!