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criticism

Posted in Opinion by Adele Todd on October 27, 2007

Today an artist I know contacted me about something she heard I had said about her work. I have followed her process for several years, and have been very intrigued to see how she has managed to work through getting married, trying to have a baby and moving from her mother-in-law’s home into an environmentally sustainable one that is a work in progress, all while teaching yoga and doing her art.

When you write about Art, the first thing that you know people wonder is, who told you that your opinion matters? I would ask, why does any writer or critic’s opinion matter? The answer is simple, and I see it in my own observations of my work.
When you are producing in isolation, or with only a few people to see what you do, your focus is very narrow.

The Entertainer

Many Artists I know deny strongly that they are entertainers. They seem to consider the very idea a dirty word. But in my understanding, the artists who know that that is a component of Art, are those who fair better in its unpredictable seas. However, this also depends on what ‘better’ really means. I have been alive long enough now to know that fame is not necessarily the thing to court. So, if Art is about entertaining, and fame is fickly, then what about opinions? Why take stock in them at all?

I have looked at a great deal of work from many places over my lifetime, and patterns emerge from this constant observation and attempting to make sense of why one image can make you feel longing and another can leave you cold and unresponsive. I am still impacted by this, even now. I must leave room enough to look at things afresh, and that is why for example in something even more fickly, like Fashion Design, a shifting of silhouette can make all the difference from year to year. Fashion knows its role, and so does Art.

So, with this known, Art can be maddening in its intent. Some things can excite now, itch your retina for more, but as a dear friend says, in a flash, it is like fast food. Not particularly healthy memories.In fact that is the point of some work. Today, one good idea can be stretched out and exploited to such an extent that the original is rendered useless.
My point ultimately is that with all the media and imagery floating about, much rises to the surface, and these things that do, demand observation. Those observations encourage further interpretation and analysis. Criticism is part of the process. It actually is the steering that gives the work its compass.

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