Category Archives: Inspirations

Work-in-progress: memorandum.

memorandum.“We are the sum total of our experiences….” – B.J. Neblett

A little work-in-progress dedicated to all the irreplaceable people in my life, whether they crept in, dug a hole into me or clung on to me.

Memorandum – “something to be brought to mind”

This piece is made up of the people who have influenced me as well as all the things that, I believe, have made me who I am today. Each “item” that fills up the word “memorandum” holds a special meaning to me, whether it be my parents or grandparents, or high school friends, or those that I have just made in college. All these “items” have made my life what it is today, and made me who I am. All these people, likes and dislikes, travels, etc. have imprinted themselves in my memories have been created in their wake and no matter whether they be good or bad, positive or negative. No matter how long it may be, I know that in my mind, they exist and during brief flashes, they will be bought to the forefront of my mind’s eye.

The inspiration for this piece came to me as I made my transition from military life into college. When I reflected on all the things that have past, I realized that there were so many things that I am grateful for that have put me in the position that I am in today. No, it may not be the perfect position to be in, or were they necessarily only good memories, but they were my experiences nonetheless and on hindsight, they were perfect. As soon as I touched down in Singapore, so many things (memories, people, food, etc.) came rushing back to me. Every place that I revisited was cast in a new light, and I started having flashbacks of who I was with and what kind of experiences we had there. The beach, the canal, my old high school campus, my new high school campus, the hobby shops, McDonald’s, KFC, places too numerous to count. However, it is not limited to the physically places or things, even songs and scent have memories that cling on to them. No matter how hard I try to override those memories, they will come back to me at one point or another and when they do, they hit me like a tidal wave. You may call me sentimental, but this is who I am.

As seen from the work, the word “memorandum.” is filled with all that I have mentioned – people, experiences, countries travelled, food, things that I love. But as you step back, the word fades out, getting lighter and lighter, reflecting our flaw in remembering even the things we hold most dear to our hearts. However, in those brief flashes where place or face acts as a catalyst, you have a phase of introspection where you delve deep into your memory. It may be a forgotten birthday, a forgotten friend, a place long forgotten, but they will suddenly become as clear as day, each and every thing printed out clearly before you.

memorandum. will forever be a work-in-progress. As time passes, more things will be added to the grey cells of my mind and changing who I am. As Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant in change.” As my experiences pile on and the people who influence me increase, so will I, and so will this piece.

memorandum. was to be displayed as an A0 “print out” on one of two possible options – on acrylic or on card with spotlights directly on the word. If card were used, color of the card would be a similar color to the wall and if acrylic, the words would be embossed or laser carved such that the light would create a shadow of each word on the wall behind.

In memories…

The Art Update: Asking, Seeking and Finding – QNA

Hey everyone! It has been a long time since I posted anything and, although this post is going to be a short one, I hope that it stands up to your expectations! This post is more about advertising for my friend, Benjamin Chin, and his band QNA. I may not be a musician, but nevertheless, music is on of the eternal universal languages that speak to one and all, young and old.

Now let me dive into the unknown and immerse myself into the mysteries of the tunes that permeate the air and penetrate our soul.

QNA is a New York based Jazz/Hip-hop group playing many soulful tunes with that special touch. Their music truly speaks to you, hitting all the right notes. They already have their debut mixtape on Spotify which is worth every second of your time to listen and hopefully, one song, or even just one line or bar will keep you hooked.

Currently, they are looking for funding to propel themselves into the music scene and they need YOUR support! Taken from their Indiegogo “kickstarter”,

“There was no fighting it, we had to focus our creative energy into putting our own spin on the sound. That’s QNA. No more four/eight bar loops. Let’s stretch it longer. No more MC with a band. The MC is in the band.

We released our mixtape in the summer and have been playing shows around NYC. ShapeShifter Lab, DROM, and The Cell Theatre are some of our favorites. On top of that we’ve been writing and rehearsing and are now ready to record our debut EP. However, we need help raising the funds for it. We’re honored to be working with Tariq Khan of High Breed Music. He’s worked on a lot of recordings with Revive, one of our favorite new labels our there. And we’ll be working with our old friend, Christian Wheeler. Quality recordings don’t come cheap, and music always deserves the best. We hope you share our beliefs. “

So do give them your support by just donating that little bit to help them! (ONLY 24 more days to go!)

After all, we all need a little bit of music to colour our lives.

Reference:
QNA (INDIEGOGO)
QNA (Spotify)
QNA (Facebook)

Greco Romano

Through the maze of city endless streets and winding alleyways…

The travel through and between cities was also an enlightening and amazing journey. The first seven days were mostly done on foot and via train (Frecciargento Trenitalia) and what I saw was truly breathtaking. Although most already know Italy and Greece for their amazing advancement in architecture and art from early on, what amazed me was their ability to maintain these sites in incredibly pristine condition. What is more, they have somehow succeeded in designing and building around these manmade marvels to integrate today’s modern comforts and culture. For instance, in the streets and alleyways near Soggiorno Oblivium, Florence (the hotel I was staying in), there was evidence of intriguing street art, in which one designer had cheekily changed the street signs with those that he had integrated stickmen into (seen in the gallery below), all of which could be bought from a shop along Via Della Spada (Mio Store) if one sought to bring home a piece of Italy or European street culture home with them. However, obviously European street art cannot exclude the infamous graffiti that still covers its countless square meters of train stations and under-the-railway-track walls, all of which, even without truly understanding their language or meaning, can been seen to carry a significant part of their writer’s heart and soul, their mark and voice for the generations to come.

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Now, cruising the Mediterranean we land on the shores of some of the many Greek islands – Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Athens, home to white washed town, clear blue waters and amazing panoramic sites. Most know Greece for The Acropolis, Agora of Athens, Ruins of Ephesus and Rhodes. However, among the ruins, the culture has developed many modern additions, attracting tourist from around the world. As the smell of souvlakis and kebabs finds its way into the nooks and crannies through the maze of streets, you can sense the modernity of Greece all around you yet, you also sense with it comes dash of ancient Greece in the mix. It is almost as if you can hear ancient history speaking through the city walls of Old Rhodes. Locals wear smiles, eyes filled with personal stories, eager to share. Streets lined with shops resurrecting artifacts of old so that you can keep a piece of Greece. Upcoming designers peddling their wares in quaint little shops carrying carvings and symbols from a Greece forgotten.

…sharing with us the art, heritage and culture from a Greece less travelled and long forgotten.

**Moving to USA for my studies!!!!!!** STAY TUNED

Masquerade Memorandum

I finally managed to sit myself down to start the story of my Mediterranean masquerade. My travels (with my family of course…) lasted roughly two and a half weeks travelling through Italy and Greece. Now many would already know of the turmoil devastating the European Union because of Greece, and that it has span the last few years and has made its presence felt now more than any other time. Fortunately (or unfortunately – due to higher exchange rates), my family and I were there before all the chaos. However, even with all the underlying problems Europe has never failed to entice and charm me, and if asked, I would go back there at the drop of a hat. What made this trip unusual was that apart from the Vatican City Museum and the Sistine Chapel, I did not visit any other art or history museum. That is not to say we missed the Roman Coliseum, The Pantheon and The Greek Acropolis among many other sites. So as you might have gathered, this post is not so much about the art, but rather the food and human culture that I, like my parents have fallen in love with. But, where to begin…

Street Art and Culture – Venice, Florence & Rome

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Starting my journey in Florence, I was immediately surrounded by grand architecture and amazing street art that is nowhere similar to those dotting the Big Apple or any fast-paced cosmopolitan city. The amazing thing is that what you may have heard in fantastical and romantic stories of Florence, Venice, Rome, and many other cities through Italy are in actual fact true. Each street corner, alleyway and avenue, you would hear the melodies of accordionists, guitarists and flutists permeate the air and find their way into your soul. Accompanying these musicians in their harmonious melodies are their visual counterparts. They line the IMG_1956 streets selling panoramic landscapes of hand-drawn, hand-painted watercolors that capture the essence of Florence. For a small price, you can even get your portrait drawn, in black and white or colors, caricature or realistic, you just have to find the guy who specializes in the style you desire. Now some may assume that, like many other technically skilled artists who seek to capture the same subject matter, their works would be almost identical, would be surprise to find that they are mistaken. Somehow, though subject may be the same, these artists have managed to diversify through varied techniques and personal preference in color schemes and tonal values, each giving an their touch on the city and country they call their own.

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This could be said for the other two places I visited – Venice and Rome. Naturally these three places each distinguished themselves from any other part of Italy and the rest of the world. During my trip there, I managed to catch glimpses of the Venice Biennale. However, the point of the trip was not to catch the various exhibitions scatter around the city, but rather soak in the atmosphere that we hear so often in books, magazines, reviews, etc. Once again, this culturally saturated town never failed to amaze. Staying near a local wet market near the waters edge, you could just walk right up to part of the Grand Canal and experience the rhythm of everyday life in this unique city. During the trip, countless people spent their day just basking like lizards in the summer sun, watching the boats go by. IMG_1702As the sun sets and the warm glow of tungsten light cast long shadows on the streets of the city, tourist attractions such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco takes on a different rhythm. Like moths to a flame, people would be drawn to the cafes that surround the square with bands playing their personal renditions of famous, distinctively recognizable scores, classical or otherwise. Each time one band stops, the crowd moves to another, and then another, right through the night. Simultaneously, if you were to turn around, intermittent camera flashes mixed with lit up helicopter toys filling the air like scattered fireflies.

For once, strangely enough, being in the crowds are worth it, because you know that no one will see even if your body is tempted to dance to the music.

To be continued…

Links:
Accommodation
Soggiorno Oblivium (Florence) 
Restaurants
Vini da Pinto (Venice)
Trattoria – Bar PONTINI (Venice)A MUST GO
Agricola Toscana (Florence)
a casa ca.fe (Florence) – To start the day
Nerbone (Florence – Mercato Centrale)
– Grom (Everywhere)

Prints can be bought on:
500px: wanny225
Society6: 
thewanone

Cardboard Carpentry

An interlude to all my history of art, I bring to you Cardboard Carpentry. Inspired by my travels to清境 (pronounced qing1 jingo), Taiwan, I have attempted to take cardboard to another level but try to make it into furniture like those I have seen in the Carton King. These pieces are works-in-progress and are far from completion. Whatever you see below has been made purely from “recycled” cardboard boxes of televisions, washing machines, etc.

THE MOTIVE & INSPIRATION

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Rather simple – to find other uses for cardboard beyond the circular process of making more boxes or for purely aesthetic ones such a scrapbooking or mounting images on a surface.  As mentioned earlier, the tables, chairs, bags, games, etc from Carton King, 清境 got me thinking about the potential for the material. It is almost an everyday material – your bulky packages arrive in them and electronics are encased in huge ones amongst so many other things. I am not saying that we do not recycle them enough or more efficiently than when I create them, but rather I hope that this is an alternative that could get others going on the potential of it.

I wanted to stretch the material even further and try experimenting for myself with it. I asked myself if  someone else could do all that with the help of machinery, could I do it without, and if so, what would I make and how would I make it? As I mentioned in the post, 清境, I highly doubt that the cardboard used at Carton King came from recycled boxes simply do to the sheer volume of cardboard necessary to make all the goods for sale. In addition, the process of making all these goods are not only labor intensive, but also demand clean, unadulterated cardboard for a sellable finish.

THE MATERIAL

At its most basic form, it is essentially paper (or most times recycled paper) that has been treated to withstand handling, wear and tear, etc. Some have been treated to the extent that they are waterproof on the surface or reinforced with strong adhesives and numerous layers. The standard cardboard will have a corrugated “core” that enhances it’s strength, yet allows it to maintain a relatively light mass so that it does not add unnecessary weight in addition to the object that it contains.

As can be seen in the image on the right, the corrugation is triangular in fashion, in order to give it some strength and durability. However, more often than not cardboard will end up creased along the hollow areas if bent or folded parallel to the corrugation due to handling and it is difficult to find cardboard surfaces that are not tainted by these crease marks. It is almost impossible to obtain a clean finish if one uses cardboard as the main material of a structure. Pressure on the surface will also cause dents in the cardboard that may look aesthetically displeasing in addition to compromising the structural integrity. Over time, lines are bound to appear and the colour will almost definitely go off if not chemically treated in any way.

Furthermore, this material is susceptible to the elements, rarely lasting a day in inclement weather. In the rain, watermarks will appear in blotches like mould on bread and eventually the card will go soft and lose all structural integrity rending it useless in nearly all circumstances, especially its purpose to protect and contain items. (Do not get me wrong though. Soggy, drenched cardboard still has many uses. However, I was and currently am attempting to keep the material in the condition that I received it in.)

That being said, it is recyclable, biodegradable and in most circumstances environmentally friendly if recycling remains a self-sustaining cycle, easily being broken down and remade into its former self. But, I highly doubt that is the case.

THE PROCESS

As much as it may be hard to believe, the process was rather straight forward. My process of making the chair was an immediate transition from conceptualization to realization. I was determined to not sketchout my plans, dimensions, etc. but immediately start constructing the chair on the spot. This “spur of the moment” methodology is something that I have grown up with and continued to hone after all these years, constantly thinking three-dimensionally rather 20150206_205701than going through the intermediate two-dimensional process of sketches and written words. Personally, I find that this process demands a lot of forward thinking as well as instantaneous problem solving. When a problem comes up during my process, I will have to immediately troubleshoot in order to not ruin the flow of creating the piece. I have applied this process to many of my works which includes majority of International Baccalaureate submissions revolving around the theme of Space. I understand that stating this becomes a matter of trust, as you readers and audiences truly do not know if I actually sketched out any part of my process or not.

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Moving on from the transitionary phase between conceptualization and actually manifesting the product, I contemplated the design and aesthetic look of the piece. At the start, in my mind’s eye, the chair was to be a simple one. It would have a square base of which three sides would act as “legs” or main support of the chair and last would remain unsupported. In addition, there would also be an armrest and a backrest. Overall, It would be asymmetrical in nature.

With that in mind, I started to take measurements from other chairs and used them as references when determining the height of my construct. The cardboard box, which originally contained a SONY Bravia television (Image above), was then divided cut up into separate segments using the fold lines20150103_000033 as guides. The largest area were then divided into three segments which would then become the three sided support of the chair. The unused cardboard was set aside to increase the strength and durability of these supports. The seat area (image on the right) was cut from the other large surface of the box and reinforced with corrugated cardboard that was meant to protect the television from any impact.

After making a hell of a mess in my room, I ended up with the basic components to create the form of my chair (Image below).
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As I imagined it in my head, the chair would not be that aesthetically appealing other than the fact that it was made purely out of cardboard and glue. So in the moment, I made the decision to cut out fame-like shapes at the sides as can be seen in the image above. This simple design was sparked by old Chinese chair 20150103_003231designs (usually cylindrical), where the center of the support would be cut out and a rectangular frame would be left. I believed that that design was simple yet sophisticated enough to catch the eye yet retain the structural strength to support a man’s weight. To enhance the strength of the chair, I made layers of these frames, which unknowingly added some depth to the side of the chair and enhance the aesthetics of the chair further. Keeping with the asymmetrical theme of this particular project, I decided that not all side will have the same concept of depth, with each side being layered with a different number of cardboard sheets. The finished components can be seen in the picture on the right.

In addition to all these “flourishes”, I continually pondered over how I could enhance the strength of this chair, which led me to reinforce the area where most chair legs would be. Making a huge mess, I cut up long, wide strips of cardboard from various other recycled boxes to form square pillared legs for the chair and, after gluing them on, am in the midst of tidying up their aesthetic look but pasting on unmarked strips of cardboard. Due to the small surface area of the contact point between the leg segment and the maid body of the chair, I decided to use epoxy to ensure that the legs remain fast to the main frame. The end product can be seen below.

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As an intermission and with a strong desire to finish “something” and hold it in my hands, I made another small footstool out of the leftover cardboard. This simple stool was made out of numerous layer of cardboard with detachable legs. 20150509_181954Being compact, it also it durable, easily support heavy weights.You can see it from the images on the right. From the top view, you can also see how cardboard is prone to creases and folds. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a project that anyone can undertake and should try at least once if there is any leftover cardboard lying around the house.

References:
The Carton King (thewanone post)
The Carton King (Website)
Cardboard (Wikipedia)

Atmospheric Affair

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To continue where I left of, this is one of two climaxes of my play. By now those who have been reading are familiar with my work Tabula Rasa. Exhibited in Asia’s only sustainable light festival, iLight Marina Bay Singapore, Tabula Rasa is a light installation piece within a shipping container. The container was part of nine other containers stacked up one on top of another to form a three-by-three square grid to form an artwork by the New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. In order to make their work more interesting, they invited various schools in Singapore to submit proposals on installation pieces that could utilize the space within the two containers that sat on the base layer. One of the schools was Laselle, College of The Arts and the other was mine, representing School Of The Arts, Singapore.

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This piece was a major turning point of my artistic process for many reasons. For one, this piece made me think beyond the physical aspects and elements of a space, forcing me to look beyond into metaphysical elements such as sound, wind and light. In many ways, I feel that most developing and practicing artist forget that these invisible elements play crucial roles in the interpretation of an artwork. I, for one, look at all works with this in mind. Ingrained deeply in me are the words “respect the space” and with that planted a seed that continuously tells me to be aware of the space that I am in. This has allowed me to perceive environments in more ways than the usual first impression and contemplate the possibilities of that space whether I use it or not in the future. In addition, the fact that this piece was to be put under the public eye made both the journey and the final product things that had to be carefully considered. Questions like “how will the audience respond?” and “what would people think?” constantly haunted me during the process. As a student artist, audience may be forgiving on some level, however, the fact that it is open to the elements means that you are attempting to impress an idea upon people, who will in turn project their response whether it be desirable or not. Ultimately, your passion for the idea will show through, and, as I believe, people will see into that piece of your soul which you have laid out to the public eye and choose to accept it or not. It is the moment that YOU or I can make an impact. It was a turning point of change for both maker and viewer.

In this piece I used light and a smoke machine to create walls of light, much like the light curtains used in technical theatre. In contrast to those in theatre, I created these walls to be horizontal rather than vertical. This was achieved by constructing a false wall that was flushed to the left side of the container which housed both the LED lights as well as the smoke machine. After fixing the lights and the smoke machine in place, a curtain draped over the gap and the entrance in order to conceal the fixtures whiles simultaneously preventing the excessive escape of smoke from the container. Other than these four components, the rest of the container was left empty for people to walk in and immerse themselves into the installation. From the entire duration of the exhibition, the lights would be left on and the smoke machine was programmed to release burst of smoke at regular intervals to maintain the atmospheric effect within the container.

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The objective of this installation was to sensitize people to the space that they were entering and to make them question “what exactly was the artwork?” By this atmospheric effect within the container, I wanted to see if people realized that as they stepped in, they became part of the work. I hoped that they would be able to “feel” their bodies being severed from their heads and legs due to the walls of light and realise the impact of lighting on any space, thereby emphasising how simple, minimalistic metaphysical elements can change not only a person’s impression of the space, but also change the impression of how others view them in that space.

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As can be seen from the images above, a children may have been the only ones who manage to fully experience the environment created. I believe that with their imaginative capacity and sense of playfulness, they saw exactly what I intended the artwork to do. This brought to mind yet another revelation – sometimes we need not be so serious in viewing works that we have to judge them whenever we see them merely because we have the capacity to do so. Being perceptive and fully aware is one thing. But being quick to judge and criticize falls under an entirely different category. Let us first soak in the atmosphere, the piece’s and our surroundings before we start to analyze and attempt to appreciate what lays before our eyes. Mind you, that I said “attempt to”, as I know that to honestly appreciate something  is easier said than done.

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All in all, this work gave me an opening and also opened my eyes by exposing me more to the world of an artist. Not a “student artist”, but a full, practicing one. I could go on and on with the epiphanies and revelations that flooded my mind and have continuously been doing so, but I shall leave it at that and hope that you take some time to decipher my almost cryptographic handwritings in the following posts that they may both enlighten and inspire you as those revelations have greatly inspire me.

Stagnant

3 month silence…

…artistic meditation

Once again I have to apologize for the long break between my posts. I have been busy with applications as well as personal matters that have taken up much of my time and left me exhausted and in great need of sleep. But that being said, I think that the lack of posts is quite apt to illustrate the situation that I was in at that time.

Now I bring to you wordy post filled with reflections. After nearly an entire year creating my series of doors, I found myself at a point of stagnation. I realized that all I had created were doors, nothing more. The visual stimulation was getting old and the subject matter was getting repetitive. I was asked again and again, “why doors? Why ONLY doors?” to which I would reply with the same dry answer that it represented a conceptual transition of space. But after a while it struck me that it was impossible to carry on my exploration and find success and contentment where I was going. It was a dead end. I was throwing myself into a black hole, insisting that it would lead out to something greater, when in fact it was nothing but a time sucking vortex of chaos.

At that point I told myself to stop.

I resided to not doing. I knew that the path that I had to find would need to encapsulate the essence of space into an elegant series of works and accompanying concept and at that moment I was so possessed by the subject matter of doors that if I were to continue, that path would never be found. This caused me to have a three-month silence.

In these three-months, inclusive of my end-of-year holidays and the January of my final year, I removed myself from my practice nearly entirely. I barely stepped into the studio and did not lay sight to any of the artworks that had consumed me. Looking back, those three months are now a blur. I would be lying if I said I did intensive research, burning the midnight oil in desperation to find the elusive inspiration I needed. In fact, I think I just did not care. Do not get me wrong, I was still extremely worried as the hours, days and weeks went by, but some part of me knew that that was the time to be silent and still, and reflect on what could be done. In the end, the waiting paid off. there was an open call for students to submit their proposal for an installation for iLight Marina Bay, Singapore in collaboration with New Zealand art collective/studio Storybox. Through what can only be described as a miracle, my proposal was selected, and that led to the creation and manifestation of the work Tabula Rasa for the month-long exhibition. That opportunity was a major breaking point in my five years of studying and practicing art, and even now, I believe that if that opportunity did not come by, my thought processing, conceptual development and visualization would neither matured as quickly nor as professionally as it did in that short span of two months of intensive conceptualization and physical construction.

What this entire process taught me was that there should not be any fear in just stopping and drawing back to become the outsider looking in. When you are rapt and absorb in the art making and conceptualization process you forget to take the position of an outsider, and audience looking at your piece. I found myself thinking how awesome my work was and, thinking it was perfect as it was, and just continued churning similar copies of works out. What they were was just that – copies. They did not add to the substance of my attempt at a paradigm shifting concept.  Ultimately, the artist is not the one viewer at the exhibition, you are neither the one judging the work nor the one trying to impress the message upon. Personally, I know that things that may be clear to you. However, more often than not be clear to others, especially those who do not usually have their hand in the art scene or practice.

By stepping back, and removing yourself from the “artist’s bubble” you become the critic and in doing so give yourself the cold hard truth you need to reorientate yourself and move the work forward. What I perceived after stepping back was how circular the physical pieces were. I managed to look at them with stranger’s eyes to see that there was little value in continuing down that path. Like me, you will be able to realized the reality and truth in people’s critiques and words, complimentary or harsh.

All in all, by doing this, you will come to see how not bit of criticism is unfounded, harsh or degrading. All criticism is constructive. As much as you, the artist, put in your heart and soul in to attempt move mountains and shift paradigms, you must also realized that it is a reciprocal relationship that you are creating between artist/artwork and audience, for without the audience and their opinions, there is nothing to shift and no room for artistic growth. This was manifested in my work Mechanical Satisfaction – Actually Really Simple (2009), where I placed an empty book next to the piece in order for the audience to respond to the work. I, in turn, drew upon those responses to further my artistic process and sensitize myself to responses to future works no matter that form.

At the end of it all, I now see no criticism as negative or bad in anyway. Rather, it is transformative, moving my own paradigms to more effectively create works that can appeal to your audience, alter stereotypes without compromising artistic integrity.