Grade Me!

August 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

I appreciate all of the strong opinions and emotions that are brought about by the artistic choices I make. I enjoy my critique sessions where I get feedback from my design student colleagues. I anxiously await my returned and graded assignments. Feedback about my very personal artistic expression, ironically, does not feel critical of me personally. An errant brush stroke can be agreed upon-or not, and in both cases it is a matter of taste. In design, projects can be completed in an unlimited number of ways, all of which can be simultaneously and equally valid. 
This is a departure for me. Rarely in my past work, was it acceptable to take divergent paths to the same outcome. Driven by funding streams, donor expectations, agency interests, unmet client needs, community engagement, performance expectations, and other criteria, decisions are judged by criteria on which few will agree, and with which many are wrought with hidden and not-so-hidden agendas. As a non-profit director, more often than not, decisions had to be made that prioritized criteria that, in my estimation should be of equal standing. I was often frustrated by the decisions one was forced to make, for example, limiting access to service versus lowering the quality of service to get more people in the door. These are impossible choices that gravely affect people's lives. Quality or quantity? I demanded both. Unfortunately, both weren't possible and not choosing had other unintended consequences. 

It is this profession that taught me to trust my own process for making good decisions. Whether or not all of my constituents agreed or could even see my point of view, I learned (am still learning) to become comfortable with the idea that there is no single correct answer. As long as I followed my process, which was tried and true, I could rest assured that I made the best choices that I could with the quality information I had at the time. As a leader, I knew that a decision judged to be "good" by many would likely be judged as "poor" by others. Judgment from others couldn't be my sole benchmark for measuring success. Admittedly, the high level of scrutiny wore me down more quickly than I would have liked. The exhaustion I felt led me to seek out alternative activities that weren't judged by black and white standards. 

With my new immersion in art and design, I am the happiest and healthiest I have been in a long time. I sleep at night, I have lost weight, I don't perseverate about every possible option before making a move. I seriously can't stop smiling! Perhaps it is because I perceive there to be less at stake. If I overexpose a photo or choose too busy of a background, no one goes hungry. And there is great comfort in knowing this. There is a freedom to act spontaneously, even daringly, with little concern about making mistakes. Even if you dislike my creative decisions, the impact will be felt by me and me alone. That is the relief I needed, even if only for a short pause before my next venture.

 


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