Monday, May 4, 2009

Portfolio Review

Yesterday I took part in a "Portfolio Review" that was hosted by a Boston area Art Association. This was my second time doing a Portfolio Review. I also did it when it was hosted by the same organization last May.

Quoting from the website of the Art Association, "a portfolio review is a way for emerging and established artists to meet art professionals across several disciplines, present a portfolio of work to them, and make contacts that can be followed up on which will hopefully help the artist meet his or her goals. During the course of the review day, each artist is provided with three (3) twenty-minute reviews in which artists meet one-on-one with a reviewer to show him or her their art."

My portfolio reviewers consisted of one assistant curator of well known and respected Boston area Art Museum, one director of exhibitions at a Boston area art gallery, and the third was the owner/curator of another Boston area art gallery.

I brought with me seven pieces from my monthly 12 x 12 x 12 Series, mounted on canvas, and my portfolio, which had photos of about a dozen Orange Construction Fence Series in it, as well as my resume and other info about me.

I learned a lot, including the fact that I either need to add a swatch of actual work to my portfolio, or include detail photos of pieces. All viewers said that it is impossible to understand the detail in my work from pictures alone. I sort of knew that, but hearing them validate it, and hearing their suggestions about how to show the detail was very valuable.

It was interesting that all three reviewers liked seeing my 12 x 12's so they could understand the texture of my work, but they had different comments about them. One didn't like them mounted at all. Another reviewer thought they should have the fabric continue over the edge of the canvas, and perhaps be on a deeper canvas. The third reviewer was fine with them as they were, and thought they'd look good as a series, hung in a grid on a wall.

All wanted to see my Orange Construction Fence Series, not just photographs. I didn't bring them with me this year because last year they felt like tablecloths laying on the reviewer's table, and not being shown on the wall. They felt crafty, and I didn't want to present them that way. I guess I should have brought them anyway. Oh well.

All three reviewers suggested I try to create some three dimensional work, to push past what I'm doing. It wasn't a criticism of my work, just a suggestion to take advantage of the relationship between the role of the construction fences and my work. Words like "installation" and "sculpture" came up all three times. Very interesting! Also a little problematic, since my studio is a small bedroom in my house, but I'm going to consider my options. Right off the top of my head I have an idea of one way to try that could work well given my space issue. Let me experiment with it a little before I discuss it here on my blog.

One reviewer didn't like that I named my work by series names. She wanted to see different names than "Orange Construction Fence Series" with a number, or "12 x 12 x 12 Series" with a date. Hmmmm.

It's important to remember that these were the opinions of three people, and three others may have had completely different opinions. As I create new work, I also need to remember the opinions of the gallery that is now representing me, because that relationship is extremely important to me.

If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a portfolio review, I suggest you do it. You will learn a lot about yourself, your art, how you communicate about your art, and how professionals in the art world relate to your work. I look forward to doing it again in the Boston area, and if possible, in different locations. One participating artist flew in from Chicago. I was very impressed that she came to Boston to do this, and I hope to follow her example some day and try it elsewhere.

My next step is to send each of my reviewers a thank-you note, and I will take all of their advice under consideration, and try to think of ways to use their suggestions in a way that it feels comfortable to me.