As a graduate of the UW Certificate in Fiber Arts, and a SDA member I am no stranger to critique groups or the various methods used. Some have been very useful and some – well not so much. I am betting that many other SDA members have had the same experience which is why I wanted to tell you about The Field-Seattle, an organization that specializes in bringing artists together to learn the fine art of giving feedback and to help them deepen their own work.
The way the The Field-Seattle works is different from most of the critique methodologies that I have previous experienced. When you present, you show your work but do not talk about it. So you are not putting it into context. I think this is a good thing. By not saying what you are trying to accomplish or what your inspiration was you are not creating a metric by which the work will be judged. This approach allows for more independent thought.
The responses you receive in the field work are very pointedly not about whether someone likes it or how successful you are at achieving your goal. Nor are there suggestions about how to technically improve the piece but rather the feedback is about what they see and how they respond to what they see. This is very useful information.
The question for the artist becomes, is this what I meant to evoke. Are they seeing things that I didn’t intentionally mean to incorporate into the piece? Does the feedback suggest avenues that I haven’t considered. The artist then has the option to decide whether he or she wants to respond to that feedback. It gives the artist autonomy.
Icing on the cake is the fact that you are bringing artists together from very different mediums; so you don’t have a fabric centric ideology. It can be invigorating. And you learn to see more clearly by responding to other’s work.
If this intrigues you, I encourage you to go to the site and read more about The Field-Seattle. There is a good blog article on getting started with reflective feedback. The last session this fall is starting on November 7th for five weeks with conceptual artist, Mimi Allin. It’s going to be good. Mary Hubbard
Full disclosure – I volunteer for The Field- Seattle as I do for SDA.