I use words in my art. Sometimes they are collage elements, pages of a book or writing from a letter. Sometimes the words are hidden and sometimes they rather large and written on the side of the deep cradle.
Another artist once said to me that writing on the side was too obvious, that it was like hitting someone over the head with the meaning of the painting. And for a couple of years I listened, and I put no words on the sides of the cradle or even in painting itself. I know now that was pretty silly, listening to someone else tell me how to make art.
What was said was really just an offhand comment, but coming from someone I respected made me listen—and because I listened it became an evaluation. And there is nothing wrong with evaluation as long as an artist keeps it in perspective—as long as an artist knows what markings and symbols are important to their work. But just for a while I forgot.
The real problem with these types of evaluations is that they often keep us from being as creative as we could be, not just from experimenting with something different but also from continuing to do the things that are right. If our art receives a thumbs up, we might keep doing the same thing for years. All after, it must be good. And if not, well instead of experimenting we could stop creating altogether.
Of course, I know it’s important to show my work, and yes I love it when I am chosen. But for every one of those, there may be ten that I am not chosen to participate in. I’m not sure what the answer is. If it is an open show, then we feel that there are no standards. We are caught in the middle, wanting to be judged and not wanting to be judged.
So I ask you, how do we maintain creativity and still subject our art and ourselves to evaluation?