Next up is new work from Julie Drew. Julie is no stranger to the art and faith scene in Edmonton, but this work is different from previous showings in many ways. First, this is acrylic, not watercolour. Second, the subject matter is not a beautiful landscape, but rather a garbage heap. And finally, there is actual garbage attached to the piece, and bursting out of the frame, which is used as an element of the composition, rather than a firm boundary.
Julie reads an essay to us on redemption. This piece is tied to the idea of redemption, as displayed by the vine, growing up from the refuse in the piece.
Now comes time for feedback. Julie is interested in our thoughts, as this is a new direction. A lot of us like this exploration. It is fun, bold, risky territory. We like watching Julie play at the margins like this. But we do have our critiques. Because I have known Julie for a while, I muster my courage and offer some feedback that is hopefully constructive, and not entirely positive.
I still wonder how far to push in moments like this. Arts Potlucks are really not for intense critique. The concept here is more of a free-form grown up show and tell. A time to share some beauty. But Julie has asked for feedback and I feel honesty is most helpful here. So I offer some thoughts. I hope they are given and received in love. I still struggle with these moments.
In the end, there is conflicting feedback. Most of us agree that the vine is not needed in the piece, and draws our attention away from the interesting and beautiful depiction of the trash heap that is at the centre of the piece. We disagree on other elements.
It is up to Julie to take this feedback and do with it as she sees fit. This is her piece – her vision. She has opened herself to ideas, which is a brave thing to do. Now she must decide to use or discard them.
Julie Drew leads spiritual art retreats twice a year. Find out more about Art: Vocabulary of the Soul retreats here. The next retreat is October 17-19, on Weakness and Failure.
Find Julie's work online at shedrewit.com