Last Spring Break and Fixing My Art

It’s so weird that I am on Spring Break now. As of this afternoon and for the last time in my undergraduate career, I have no classes for a week. I honestly don’t know how to feel, but the best description is Taylor Swift’s song “22.” Happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Miserable and magical.

Before you ask, I’m not going anywhere. This time last year, I was in New York, which was my first flight and first time out of the south (South Carolina is my home, visited Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina). The last time I went on vacation was in fifth grade and I don’t count my trip to New York as a vacation because it was so busy and stressful. It was a school trip that was very itinerary heavy in terms of visiting a million museums an hour and my feet were hurting from bad quality shoes. Everything just felt too rushed. Anyway, back to the present. Given my experience with planes and road trips, I’m kinda glad that I’ll be chilling at home without dreading a red-eye or staring at the road for hours.

Yet, I still feel ehh. I think it’s because I have tons of work to do for my book and my collection of senior artwork for my major. Illustrating and writing a book is hard and I’m so afraid of screwing up, but I gotta keep moving forward. Also, the art I’ve made for my senior thesis is…troubling me.

I love every single thing I have made, but I have received critiques that have spoken to how my work is being limited by some of the choices I have made. Basically, I’m being told to nix a portion of my work, and use the other work that seems to carry over better. I understand that critique, but I still love the “lackluster” pieces, or at least my intent for the message they carry. I would even show them to people, but because of my critiques, I kinda wanna hide them away. I’m hoping that I don’t sound immature by saying that, but I am hoping that I sound human. I know that there are artists out there that say we artists shouldn’t be so precious about our art and that they’re not our children. Just flip it over or throw it away to make something different, but honestly, I do feel precious about my art. I get that it’s just a piece of paper, with markings that have a subjective meaning that can be rudimentary to anyone walking by. Yet, if I were showing people my work and they expressed an aggressive dislike for something that was my favorite of the bunch, I would nod my head and hear them out like any polite artist getting a critique would, but I would have to patch up that sinking feeling in my chest.

In essence, my artist statement is virtually meaningless because my reason for making my work would not be represented in the pieces that “worked.” I was hoping I could show most of my work as a cohesive package deal that showed my process and search to portray meaning, but my critiques don’t see it like that. However, I am working on a solution by trying a different medium and a different method. I feel like a sellout by just keeping the pieces that people like and not the ones that (in my eyes), actually mean something for myself and my artist statement. I’m not trying to complain. I’m just saying what’s on my mind.

Word to the wise: If you want to ask someone something to stroke your ego or you want someone to agree with you to make you feel better, don’t ask. Don’t say anything. You won’t like what you hear. If you recognize that this is your problem, check yourself. I’m not saying it’s easy. You’re gonna feel hurt because the thing that sparked for you won’t even be a glimmer to someone else, but that’s part of the game. Before you go seeking ego stroking, asses what you have done. Investigate other methods. Look from another angle. Then, try again.

Cheers to a week of new WIPS, illustrations, and editing my story.

Now, go make your thing.

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