Review Feedback and Studio

Well, I survived my review. I think I carried myself pretty well and had answers when they had questions. It was an interesting experience having 7 faculty express their opinion about what was working and what wasn’t in my work. The first ten minutes of the review everyone milled around and looked at everything and formed their opinions. All the faculty are so different from each other, so everyone had a different point of view. Then, all attention was focused on me talking about what I am doing. I felt like it was a difficult position to be in since I wasn’t really excited about everything I was showing. My work is not where I really want it to be, and everything they told me, I already knew. I kind of wish it had lasted longer so they could have dug a little deeper. The half an hour to 45 minutes went by fast.

I chose to show a sampling of the various stages of development since I’ve been in the program. I started off drawing my family photos and then started to incorporate the actual images about a year ago. I think this was the biggest concern from everybody. They wanted to see me put more of the artist’s hand into what I am doing. It was interesting that they basically told me to go back to what I was doing when I first started the program. The professor’s that I had never had before didn’t realize that my daily collages were just starting points. They thought they were finished pieces, so I think maybe we could have gotten a little closer to the root of my concept, if this had been clearer from the beginning. I thought it was pretty spelled out clearly in my artist statement, but I got the feeling that a few professors didn’t get a chance to read it, or maybe read it the night before and forgot the details. I guess there were 3 other graduates having reviews. I was a little disappointed when I realized this.  I probably should have talked more about these in the beginning as well.  Lesson learned.

Here are a few comments or things to consider that came from the review:

  • Photos can be considered disruptions of what someone is doing.
  • You can’t tell where my family is from looking at the photos. It could be anywhere USA.
  • Play with scale.
  • Responded to the offset figures and shadows.
  • Explore mark making and drawing. Show artist’s presence.
  • Question the value of contemporary nostalgia. You don’t want your work to look like the crafty iron on photos that people use to make nostalgic family pillows, etc. That would be too cliche.
  • Differentiate yourself from the mass.
  • Question the validity and value of creating new fictions.
  • What about having contemporary settings? Bring the past to the present?
  • Play with obscurity and having things out of focus.
  • Humor and playfulness is your strength.


I was a little lost in the studio today, as I was trying to, in a way, reinvent myself. I feel like I needed to start from scratch. I don’t think I need to abandon the photograph all together, I just need to manipulate it further and put my mark on it in an obvious way. With concept on the back burner, I decided to go back to the drawing board with my process:


I read in one of the photography books that I’m reading that before photography, when someone was going away for a long time, and you wanted to have something to remember them by, they would trace the person’s shadow on the wall. Here, I decide to trace the collage on tracing paper, using an x-acto knife as my pen. The photo has been taken away entirely and then the “tracing” has been collaged with fabric.

(Above) Tracing paper with photographic elements from a collage.

(Above) Paper, tracing paper and conte crayon. Here I took away the photo entirely.



Filed under Artwork in Progress, Inspiration, Studio Practice

3 responses to “Review Feedback and Studio

  1. vrolli20

    Hi Anna,

    I was just thinking that over the break you may enjoy watching Amelie again … the part where all of the photographs from the photo booths are collected and put back together again. Another good movie is Momento that deals with out of order sequencing in the telling of a story. The Hours is also an excellent film that interweaves three narratives and shows the interconnectedness between the modern and past. Just some light ‘work’ that may fuel ideas for how you may want to relay your pictorial narratives. Also, you may want to look at Yinka Shonibare’s photography series of him dressed up in Diary of Victorian Dandy and his Dorian Gray series. His is a retelling of history that challenges societal constructs.

  2. vrolli20

    Hi Anna,

    I remember Pam commending you on your format and approach to the review. Would you mind sharing any advice with your peers?

  3. Sure, vrolli20,

    I think what Pamela meant when she made that comment was that I took the time to really think about what I was showing my audience. I didn’t show everything I did. I picked pieces that had different processes that I had experimented with that showed my progression of how I got to where I am now. I also spent a lot of time thinking about display and where to hang things and took the time to transform the space so that it felt less like a classroom. I didn’t just hang stuff up and call it done. I put vintage table cloths on the ugly tables, and hung fabric over the the orange bulletin boards so it wouldn’t detract from looking at the finished pieces. My biggest advice is to spend a lot of time writing your artist statement, and make its concept as narrow as possible. This will force you to really focus on the details you are trying to express and if you are doing a good job at it. I got more out of the process of preparing for the review than the review itself, but this will only happen if you really do the work in asking yourself why you do everything you do when you are writing your artist statement. Also, keep and open mind with all the comments you receive. Everything said may not resonate with you. You will probably come away from it drained and even more unsure of what you are doing. This is OK. It only makes you think even more about what you are doing, and makes you work stronger in the end.

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