The work above has made an appearance at two critiques. In August it was shown on the computer screen. It hadn't even made it to a print proof yet. I liked the square format but I was struggling with the work. The circular pattern of Peruvian Grasshoppers was interesting yet I felt it was lacking something. During my five minute allotment we discussed the piece. I got some good feedback on spacing which has been adjusted a bit. Everyone liked the subject matter and the play of a flower like shape made of insects. I took it back to the studio and continued to stare at it for the next month. I finally decided that what it lacked was a central and symbolic focal point. I had tentatively titled this The Mating Dance so I did a little research into what sort of fruit could convey fertility. I found that tomatoes symbolize fertility and since I had a whole bunch of tomatoes growing in my backyard, I marched outside, picked a few and went to work.
I will say that I immediately like the piece better with this red tomato in the center. It seemed to emanate as a light or energy source for the work and also alluded to the formation of an overall floral motif. Still, I wasn't 100 percent certain that this was the final solution. So, in October it went back to critique as a proof print. I reintroduced it to the group and talked about how I hadn't felt it was done without something in the center. The immediate response was a positive one. Yes, they agreed that it had needed something there and this could work. From the back of the room another artist suggested I make one more revision. "Instead of a tomato, use a pomegranate." said Bridget. She elaborated that the pomegranate has a long standing symbolism of fertility because of its juicy red seeds. Several others in the group agreed, the five minute duck warning quacked, and we moved on to the next artist,
After pondering it for several days I decided that I would give that a try. Off to the grocery store, in search of a pomegranate, I went. I found one that was a deep red and had a fairly round shape. I brought it home amongst the apples, bananas and other produce for this week's cooking, After storing the groceries I carefully sliced open the skin and pulled the fruit in half to reveal the ripe red seeds inside. It took a bit of "fruit surgery" to produce the appearance I knew I wanted. Next I took it down to my studio and made the scan, placed it into the original scan and followed that with a few hours worth of corrections. The resulting image is a little more mystical in its appearance. The addition of the pomegranate gives a feeling of a ceremony, or offering and speaks to traditions about courtship and marriage.
If it weren't for my critique group I may not have arrived at this particular solution to a piece I struggled with. Instead, because I risked putting it up for discussion I ended up with a much more solid, symbolic and meaningful work. Getting out of my own studio into a group setting for critique has been a positive experience for me. I arrive, work in hand, with a goal of growth in my heart.