Two months ago I met an artist who has now become somewhat of a mentor figure for me. Whenever we meet he does his typical wise, old man thing and lectures me of the intricacies and secrets of the changing contemporary art world. He recommends me dozens of films, books and articles to study as well as share anecdotes from his career.
It wasn't until after these encounters that I realized the value of having a reliable foundation of peers around you. Having been graduated for what feels like a very long time, the concept of critique and contribution was almost non-existent, making it surprisingly difficult for me to move forward with my work.
However, everything clicked after seeing the Rauschenberg show (Among Friends or something like that) at the MoMA. The exhibition focused on Rauschenberg’s collaborative nature and how he drew inspiration from working with other artists. After walking through that show, it was evident how his contemporaries pushed and inspired him to create the sensational art he is so well known for.
During school, we had a platform that allowed us to have an active self awareness of our own work. Whether I disregarded someone’s opinion (which was often) or not, just the fact that my work was constantly being reviewed kept me very self aware of how my work was being perceived, and subconsciously indicated how I should proceed.
After graduating, I felt like I was lost in the dark. It wasn’t until that old, wise man told me, “You’re the talent. You’re the artist. You have to build the community around you”. And that’s when I realized it’s my own fault I’m lost, and that not having critiques is no excuse to not seek feedback. The energy of reliable peers pushes the creative mind beyond its present state.