Last week I participated in the NC Open Art Review held at the GreenHill Center for NC Art in Greensboro. A total of 13 artists from North Carolina presented their work, coming from as far East as Beaufort and as far West as Linville close to Grandfather Mountain. The procedure was to show your art in 15 slides, 20 seconds time per slide, with an auto-advance of the slides. Feedback was provided by Edie Carpenter, Director of Curatorial & Artists Programs, and Rachel Siminoski, curatorial assistant, both at the GreenHill. In addition, the other artists in attendance were encouraged to contribute to the discussion.
I came prepared – or so I thought. I had chosen my images all from one cohesive body of work. I had decided to talk first about the techniques I use to create my art quilts as not everyone might be familiar with the process. The second part of my presentation was about the inspiration and mission of my work. Of course, I had practiced my talk to ensure that every slide had the right amount of spoken words within the 20 seconds.
Here are some snapshots: presentation by a seasoned artist: He didn’t get up front but remained in his chair. He stated the title of his individual pieces and the materials he used. Sometimes he explained what the blob in the center of his abstract art would mean. He kept talking about a particular piece although the slide had advanced.
Another artist: When asked about the size of her work she raised her hands and motioned “this wide and this high. I’m not good with numbers”.
Art from a variety of mediums, all over the place, presented by a single artist, including abstract paintings on cardboard. Yes, on pieces ripped off corrugated cardboard boxes. Well, surely, uhhh, different.
But there were also really great presentations. Stories behind the paintings, explanations about techniques. In-depth research to re-create minute details. Beautiful artwork, strong artists voices. A selection of artwork that took the audience along on a journey with the artist.
We all got feedback. Naturally, some got more advice than others. Regarding my work, there was a consensus that I accomplished my goal of creating peaceful abstract landscapes and telling a story that everyone can relate to.
I got praise and yet I felt disappointed. Somehow, I had expected more critique. But maybe my response is telling. I’m at a point where I have developed my own artistic voice. I create the type of art I enjoy deeply and when talking about it I can create a connection between my work and the viewer. There is nothing “wrong” with my work. This is a good place to be. Yet I don’t want to settle here. There is so much more I want to explore artistically. Moving forward from here is because I have many ideas and I cannot imagine myself not pushing forward in my creative endeavors. Surely, there is something I can improve on, grow further, express deeper.
The feedback I received was not what I had expected. But when I allow myself a short break from being my own worst critic the feedback makes me smile. It gives me a sense of inner peace. Who knew that it’s possible to be so happy when you don’t get what you expected?