The keynote speaker at NCECA last year (2016) was a choreographer by the name of LIz Lerman. She came in to discuss her book The Critical Response Process, which is all about giving critical feedback on people's work. One of the things she discussed that has stuck with me is the need to establish a level of trust between the critic and the artist before any real, valid feedback can be given. She suggested that the critic spend a few minutes discussing the work with the artist before offering any opinion. This allows both the artist and the person offering the critique an opportunity to establish a level of trust and understanding. At the university we tend to do 5 minute speed dating type critiques, which really do not allow enough time for this type of feedback, which is why I have found a couple of local artists that I can call on to give me in depth, honest feedback. After several critiques with these people I really do feel that I can trust them, even when they are tearing my work apart piece by piece, and that makes it easier to take.
One of the truly difficult things about being in an MFA program is the push that is given to the student to experiment and evolve while still being expected to "turn in" good, completed work. I will admit that the fear of failure along with short deadlines has too often kept me from really pushing my work as much as I might have liked. Now, as I begin to prepare for my thesis show, I'm realizing that I am getting ready for a year where I can focus entirely on making a body of work, with only one final deadline to meet rather than the usual "turn something in every four weeks." Over the last three years I've learned to trust the feedback that I get from my professors and fellow students, but I've also learned to trust myself. As the artist, I have final say as to what happens with my work and the direction that it takes. Sure, some of my experiments have been failures, but the overall momentum of the work has been good. And, maybe that's what trust is all about. Not so much the trust that you have in others, but the trust that you have in yourself to do and make the things that you need to do.