Sunday, June 2, 2013

Well Overdue

As a sort of followup to my last post, which was a reblog of a post on Amanda Hocking's blog, I've decided to do a little reblogging of my own.  It's only a "followup" in the sense that the stuff she says about reading reviews is topical, and really hit home with me and gave me the nudge I needed to finally reblog this post.  But everything she says--all those feelings that lead to writer's block--they all revolve around giving attention and responding to the negative energy that circulates in our world.   It's all cyclical.  And what I'm about to say all revolves around this concept.

The following is a post I did as a contributor for another blog I used to work on.  Understand that these feelings have been with me since I was very young, long before I started putting my stories and music out into the world for general consumption, therefore they are not merely a reaction to personal criticisms.  If you don't believe me, spend a semester in art school--you'll start to see what I'm talking about here.

I encourage everyone to spend less time perpetuating negativity and more time letting yourselves feel inspired by anything and everything you encounter.  I've said this before and I'll say it again--in the world of art, you can either be the type of person who is inspired by nothing, or one who is inspired by everything.  I choose to be the latter.

I'm literally just copying and pasting this from my original post, so here ya go:

This Business of Criticism
By: Erin Irvin

Okay, this is something that’s been on my mind for a while.  Years actually.  I’ve imagined myself getting on a soap box and ranting about this several times over the years, and now I’m finally following through.  This might be a little thick, but just bear with me.

Okay, so I’m just gonna dive right in here. 

The Purpose of Art:

The purpose of art is simply to be.  Anyone can experience any form of it, whether literary, visual, musical, or whatever, and apply it to their worlds and feel.  As an artist of many trades, I can tell you that the purpose, in large part, of creating, is to figure out who you are, and to reach out and make connections with other people.  The purpose of the product is to be, in some form or another, emotionally resonant.  Period, end of story.  Whether something is good or great is an impossible question to answer—and the question itself is irrelevant and misses the point.  The beauty of all art is its subjectivity, its versatile nature, its ability to make two different people feel the same thing, or, dually, to make two similar people feel different things, but most of all, its ability to just make people feel.

I’m really inspired by the postmodern, Dada, minimalistic and expressionistic movements.  I believe anything can be art if you think of it in an artistic way.  One word can be a poem and it can be beautiful or ugly or both at the same time.  A urinal on display in a museum (see Marcel Duchamp) can evoke so many emotions—what art does not do so?  Four white canvases forming a large square hung on the wall of an art gallery is more than justified to be there (see Robert Rauschenberg).  Is any one of David Hockney’s several paintings of various swimming pools, presented in complete realistic glory, less than art?  Is John Cage’s 4’37”, where the sheet music is filled with rests, instructing the musician to sit in silence for the duration, any less than music?  That’s my true aesthetic.  Art is art.  Art is anything and everything.  Art is what you want it to be and most assuredly what you do not want it to be.

The problem is we live in a world where criticism is not only accepted, but expected—in fact, on the rare occasion that something is not attached to any criticism, it’s often invalidated, rendered unworthy of being a part of “the group”. As an Arts and Sciences major, where my focus was in music, creative writing, and theatre/performing arts (arguably three out of the Big Four art industries), I was required to take several workshop style classes, heavily creatively saturated, but also equally loaded with critiquing our peers.  While I would do my best to give adequate critiques and honest opinions, I felt they were moot overall.  I am no more qualified than anyone else to give my opinion and I don’t feel my opinion matters anyway.  The point to all these things we do is the process.  Getting there.  We artists don’t easily forget the delightfully painstaking hours we spent on one idea, one image, one word, one sound.  The art is in the process, not the product.

Everyone has their own journey through the world of creation and they should commence happily without spending precious minutes dwelling on outside criticism—either giving it or receiving it.  A dialogue is one thing, critiquing is another.

My point: It’s not about saying things are “good” or “bad”; it’s about measuring their integrity, their merit.  And we should measure that merit not by the aesthetics of the product itself, but by the soul behind it, the spirited effort put in, and the honesty with which it was made.

*Sigh* I feel much better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.