After hanging the show, and just a couple of hours before the opening reception, I had some friends, all of whom were once instructors at one of the art schools in town, drop by for an informal critique. It was really nice for me to have such knowledgeable people come by and give me feedback on my work and I really appreciate them doing so. At the same time, it's always hard to hear, well, what people think is wrong with what you've done and what they think you could do better. By the end of the hour I felt pretty small and wanted to take everything off the walls and start over. I think part of the issue with the show was that I had really wanted to make more of a larger scale installation piece, using the whole gallery for one "work of art." Instead, I chose the safe route and put up a number of smaller works that shared a common theme, but maybe didn't work as well together as I might have liked. While there are a number of reasons why I chose to go this way, the important thing is that, in the end, I just didn't feel happy with what I had put up.
This experience, coupled with my recent experiences during my class here in Hays, has reminded me of just how difficult it can be to take criticism. When we create art work, far more than when we create a spreadsheet or a report for work, we are taking a part of our soul and using it to make something that can be intensely personal. It's important to bear in mind that once that artwork is out in the world, it takes on a life of its own. I think that one of the more important things that I have learned so far in grad school is to divorce myself from my creations and to view them objectively as my audience does. This can be a hard lesson to learn and, as a student, I find myself not always giving full feedback to fellow students because I don't want to upset them. At the same time, I really enjoy hearing what people have to say about my work and what they "see" in it.
For my final piece for my class here in Hays I did make an installation piece that is more inline with what I had wanted to put up in Denver. The work is comprised of smaller groups of ceramic pieces and line drawings that are then spaced out along two walls and tied together using black lines. While this didn't make it up at Spark, I do feel somewhat redeemed by putting it up in Hays and finally trying out this idea.