Some negative responses (that I only heard through the grapevine) from readers were that they didn't like my work because it is "just about sex"or it's about "torturing animals", which got me to thinking about the merits of their critique and if they are correct. I'm not here to discuss the merits of my subject matter, although metaphor is a major component of my work. If one is to take my work as literal then one should take the literary works of the "Life of Pi" or Aesop's Fables as literal, as well.
|The Stiletto and the Hare|
What I am interested in is the assumption that since I am the maker, I always like what I make.During Graduate School and for years after, I always felt compelled to have a meaning before the work could begin. That's due to the nature of Graduate School and critiques. I couldn't just say "it's a visual metaphor" and leave at that. In graduate school, you have to justify what you make. Otherwise, the critique would be short and there'd be no exploring and mining the depths of idea.
Now when I make work, I just have to first be interested in the form. For instance, the recent addition of the high heel red stiletto to my repertoire is a response to a dancer at last year's SUU graduation. She wore them so beautifully and gracefully that I decided to come home and make one. The test to determine if an idea is compelling is that I stay engaged. If I don't get bored, then there's something important to explore.
If I stay engaged, I start to attach meaning to the idea and a narrative develops. The narrative usually corresponds with memories or experiences from my formative years, but not always. Sometimes I stay with an idea simply because I appreciate the formal qualities of the object and nothing more. I suspect, however, that the meaning will eventually come if I'm compelled to stay with it.
So to the critics of my work, get in line, behind me.