Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The Work in the Exhibit
Andy Warhol, 1977
Art Without Compromise by Wendy Richmond
Chapter 3: "Life Support"
section 6: "The Work in the Exhibit"
This chapter of Richmond's book is increasingly centered upon her teaching experiences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and this section is no different. Luckily, there are many gems to be mined here. An important aspect of her graduate course is the student exhibition, which they are responsible for planning and installing. An important goal is to show a completed body of work and to create an exhibition that equally supports the efforts of all the students in the best light. Because most of my readers are solo artists, so I'll skip the details and get to the part that applies to us.
There are three thoughts I'd like to pursue:
1. creating a quality exhibit
2. learning from the audience reaction to our work
1. Creating a quality exhibit that best shows our work is essential. I've seen far too many artists relinquish control over how their work is exhibited to their detriment. Poor lighting, incorrect placement, crowding of work, improper labeling, etc. are among the many problems that mar the appearance of an exhibit. I remember dropping off a painting to a gallery director once, and was appalled to see that work that she had received from another artist was stacked willy-nilly, one on top of the other, so that the plexiglass glazing was being scratched by the paintings on top. When I pointed this out to her and asked her to treat my work with more care, she seemed both uncomprehending and offended. However, if I don't concern myself with these details, it affects both my income and artistic reputation.
2. Frequently, I inconspicuously stand where I can hear and see people's reaction to my work. I don't mind the criticisms and harsh reactions as much as I mind it when someone quickly strolls past giving my work only a glance. Whether or not someone likes my work isn't nearly as important than the ability of my painting to evoke a reaction from the audience. To me, that's a success. If there are too many passers-by, then I know it's time to improve my paintings.
3. Deadlines. I love them! They keep me on track and make me work harder. If I don't have a deadline coming up, then I look for opportunities to find a project with a deadline. If I can't find one, then I create artifical deadlines. Maybe this makes me crazy, but I need it to stay energetic in my work.
What are your experiences and thoughts??