- Elkin, Art Critiques: A guide, Chapter 16: What if you’re asked to talk about your work? 63-68
One of my favorite books for sports psychology is Mind Gym by Gary Mack. I read select passages of it every time before I compete, as being an athlete constitutes much of my identity as well as being an artist and educator. In one of the sections, Mack elaborates on how he teaches mindfulness and envisioning success to athletes. “Imagine the perfect game.” He instructs professional athletes to be in their body, smell the grass, feel the viscosity of the air: develop the full picture.
When I approach discussing my art, I find the an intake breath pulls me away from my immediate environment. Then, the exhale allows me to center myself. My mindset is my power.
In order to find the right words and be honest about my work, I need to mentally inhabit that space. Just like in Mind Gym, I need to reintegrate myself into the environment in which I created my work.
Elkin’s guide to discussing your work is loaded with helpful tips, but doesn’t capture the essence of what I require. Without the breath and vision, I easily stumble.
I do enjoy her offering, “I’d like to say a few things about this, and then I’d like to hear what people have to say.” My work is often about social constructs, collaborative expression, and the self in context. Dialogue with others is a natural transition.
Presenting the audience with an opportunity to inquire about more heady, academic conversations outside of a formal speech is also a wonderful idea. Rather than forcing academic language and art theory at any audience, acknowledging this side of your work and providing an opportunity for the viewer to control the conversation seems approachable and productive.