“Your artwork is not precious.”
The words of my art professor rang in my ears. My brow furrowed. I looked down at my artwork. Not precious, but it was, wasn’t it? I had expended so much time, thought, and creative energy to certainly validated its worth. My professor went on. “Your work cannot be so dear that it keeps you from making the improvements it needs.” She was right. Last few weeks this project had felt like a new appendage as I scrambled to meet its deadline yet now with the work before me I knew somehow it wasn’t what it could be.
For me, changing direction would have meant losing a technical and aesthetic aspect I really wanted to keep. It also meant the sacrifice of all the hours I already spent and the additional time needed to shift direction. In the throes of my art-making process, I was unwilling to scrap what wasn’t working even though deep down I knew I needed to. As a result, my finished piece represented not my personal expression but a blindness to alter my idea. In its pursuit, I had shut off the potential for my work to grow and myself to grow as an artist.
My professor’s words weren’t easy to hear and even harder to put into practice, but they really stuck with me. Now they often come to mind when faced with an internal debate within my art and as well as in my life; do I take this out or leave it as is, make a hard change or forge ahead. The tighter we hold on, the more challenging it becomes to be objective in our work. Yet, once we let go of our art as too personal or our original vision too sacred, it becomes easier to acknowledge its shortcomings, see areas for improvement, and consider constructive critique.
It is difficult to acknowledge the amount of time and resources one puts into something doesn’t necessarily guarantee success or justify its value simply through our efforts. Scrapping your creative hard work, sucks. But it’s not a sign of artistic weakness. Embrace it as a strength of awareness and objectivity that allows for growth and new potential. Holding on to what already is, makes it harder to see what can be.