Some learnings gained

What did I learn from this last seminar?

This last seminar helped to bed a few things in for my art practice. This was helped by the lots of reading, thinking and analyzing I had done since the April seminar. Also the deeper questioning over this time of; Why was I doing this masters? Which bits was I still grappling with in my making? Where do I sit in the contemporary art world? What is important to me as an artist to hold onto? Why am I scared of ‘rabbit holes’?

Through a combination of these things and where I am at as an artist I pulled out the following learnings I have done. Some of these need deeper thinking and analyzing than what I have done here, but these are a few port holes to start with:

  1. The work did more than I had thought; I had in my mind what I wanted the work to do/say. Once installed the work did more that I had anticipated. I should have sat with my work, contemplated & analyzed it. Questioning what was ‘the more’ the work did. Instead I ‘ran’ away, it scared me to see what more it did. A very strange experience. In hind sight I realize I was overwhelmed by it and had no ‘tools’ of how to deal with it.
  2. It is OK not to know; Because I did not question what more the work did, I could not really answer what the work does. I should have been honest to say that I had not entirely grasped this.So far my working life has been to ‘know’, as a landscape designer/ consultant, lecturer and business owner I had to know what I was talking about, if I didn’t, I simply had to fake it, because in those roles showing ‘vulnerability’ of not knowing was a weakness I could not afford. Am realizing there are moments in my art practice it is ok to have this ‘vulnerability’. How could I know what the work does to others? By asking, but also through more consciously analyzing/unpacking the work. Through knowing more about my processes, materials used and display methods engaged.
  3. Spend time with the work after it is installed; To really understand the work(s) from both perspectives - is it a step closer to what I am trying to say/grappling with or have I stepped away from that? Really interrogating the question: What does my art do? And is it doing that?Installing and walking away, waiting for the assessment was a big mistake on my part. This is not just in an assessment situation important, but at every stage of my art career. Learning it now I hope that it becomes more integral part of my practice. As installing in a gallery or anywhere will need the same scrutiny.
  4. Do an inventory of the work; Analyze each component that was used to make the work - process of screen printing and digital printing, glass, shelf on wall, height of display, single image on paper, collection on glass, single vs multiple, scale used, My processes used - what is it about this that appeal? The need for me to at some stage be physically involved in this process? Glass has been the second constant in my work (besides plant material) - why?What is it about glass? Why glass? I have used glass as a containment; behind, in and on. Further and deeper thought/research needs to go into this. I need to pull this whole inventory apart more to get a better grip on this work and parts of my practice.
  5. My ‘art whakapapa’ needs another layer; It needs some roots, something to help bed it in. Something to help anchor it as my practice. What I have got to date is the result of these roots, but not necessarily the thinking behind/beneath. I need to go beneath the surface of this whakapapa and create my own ‘urpflanze’. My own original ‘art plant’, with the above ground bits and then the roots that bed it in.
  6. Resolution to gallery standards is not the only answer; Why has it taken me so long to realize that resolving an art work to a display standard is not THE answer. It is not the full stop of the question or the work. It is simply a step along the journey, a step that is not in your head or on a scrap piece of paper. It is a port hole view of where you are at with your thinking, research and idea. It is showing where your ‘thinking’ is at. This resolution then needs to go through the inventory process to analyze and unpack it, to further develop the work.
  7. There is not one answer; This one is the hardest for me, because my scientific background wants there to be one answer. The logic of 1+1=2 does not work in art. As said above, the resolution is a step towards a possible explanation or working out of the idea, but it is not the only answer.
  8. Install the work and then write the statement; Bits of the an art statement can be done before the installation. But installation affect what the work does or does not do. In this work it did more than I had anticipated, this ’more’ needed to be reflected in the statement. I would have gotten this if I had sat with my work, read my statement and then questioned whether the two were singing from the same hymn sheet.
  9. Achieved a personal criteria for my work; To have my work be accessible to the wider public, but also have lots within the work which the art world can feast on. This fine line has been one I would like to walk on, having achieved bits of this, has been overwhelming. This line is a wobbly one, but a start of one. As an artist my desire to keep things ‘real’ is a strong driver/criteria. I am not into trickery or representational or vague. Is it one of my character traits? Possible. Art making is after all a personal journey, so will be affected by who I am.
  10. Keep questioning; While making, while analyzing decisions, while installing, after installing, while talking to others, while thinking…….keep questioning.

Am sure that while I keep questioning more learnings will come to the surface and now hopeful I am ready for these and more.

Posted by Elle Anderson

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