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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Art, Criticism, Perfection, Growth,

Having spent most of my life in Theatre I am no stranger to criticism.  As anyone who can claim going through graduate school in a liberal arts field can attest to criticism in the arts is paramount.  I believe in calling things like you see them.  My artistic integrity depends on it.

However, as an Arts Administrator it makes me shudder.  Perhaps I've become to familiar with circumstances out of your control, or more realistically the differing in goals of arts organizations or artists.   This dichotomy is something I face on a daily basis.  In the age of computers we are able to express criticism in a variety of avenues.  To do so freely and often without scruple.  

Today, I question the place of art criticism not in the whole of artistic culture but in my own "nest".  How do we defend our opinions when we are allowed to just stream them?  When is the dialogue about improving artistic quality appropriate or when is it damaging to creating an artistic community?  I claim no answers.  I lack the growth to decide.  But I hesitate none the less.  

One of my favorite writers Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances without own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” 

I think as artists and critics what we really judge is not the artistic perfection but rather the motivation for the product.  As artists, producers, or viewers we are in state of questing the "rapture of being alive" and perhaps the concept that others are living as well.

Leigh Anne Chambers
Executive Director
Bossier Arts Council

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