It has been an exhausting past number of days! I had heard that a review of the CoCA show was going to be appearing in The Stranger, but was disappointed when I finally read it (Art Eating Park) last Friday. Not only was the writer not particularly impressed with the show, but my work was summed up as: “a deflating attempt to connect to a majestic tradition with three unremarkable dream catchers hung from a tree on a lawn.” What made it worse is that the full title of the article was “Art Eating Park: Dream Catchers Are Not Going to Cut It.”
Well, as you can imagine, this was rather depressing to have my first public mention in writing be negative, and I certainly wasn’t feeling very upbeat after reading it. Having had a few days to process things, I was feeling much better about it all. And then I heard from the curator of the show tonight that my work has gone missing from the park! Don’t know if there is any connection between the article appearing and the work disappearing or not, but I’m not overly surprised since it is in a public space.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the review. I’m not going to respond and defend my work or my choices as she is certainly entitled to her opinion. I do have two things that struck me about the article though. First was that the park itself seemed to have made a much bigger impression on her than the art.
You get lost. Your eyes take so long riding up the endless trunks of trees that you’re blind-tripping on the roots. If this place spoke, it would only say one word: respect.
While I do think it is a beautiful park, I also still find it very much to be a park and not a wilderness area. There are vast mowed fields and meadows, parking lots, a playground, picnic shelters, a bridge to take one over the adjacent railroad tracks and down to a small beach area, and more. As far as respect-inducing parks go for me, this one is rather tame for the Pacific Northwest.
The other thing I’ve been mulling over is her choice of referring to dream catchers as “a majestic tradition.” My work aside, this choice of wording came off as a little patronizing towards the Ojibwe culture where the tradition originated. I may well be reading more into it than is there, but I’m not sure whether she’s trying to be respectful to Native cultures with a grand statement, or if she says this because she has a preconceived notion of what a “real” dream catcher should be. Beyond that, I’ve also never considered dream catchers to be majestic. They are more introspective, personal objects. Now, if she was talking about another stereotypically Native object, the headdress, I wouldn’t have the same problem. “Majestic” is better suited there as the item is made with the intention that it be visually intimidating.
So now the question at hand is how to respond to the loss of my work. The three feathers are still there, just the dreamcatchers were taken. Should I use this as an opportunity to make and hang new work? Should I consider the disappearance to be in keeping with the title (I Will Go Back and Not Come Out)? I’ll have to mull it over.