Fieldwork is a place for artists to learn about their work, develop their ability to give feedback, and build a community of artistic peers.
Honed by artists around the world for over 30 years, Fieldwork continues to be a powerful tool in the creative process. Participants meet weekly to share works-in-progress and exchange peer feedback, with incisive and stimulating critiques guided by an experienced facilitator.
NEW: With the completion of The Field's participation in Race Forward’s Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab in March 2018, we have revised the Fieldwork guidelines to better reflect our commitment to providing a safe, inclusive space for artists of all racial, cultural, and social backgrounds. Scroll down to read about our methodology, or download the complete, updated Fieldwork Basics as a PDF.
The primary goal of Fieldwork is to provide structure and support for an artist's process and to give them meaningful feedback for their work. In order to accomplish these goals, The Field and its cohort of facilitators believe in:
- An artist’s right to free expression of ideas, opinions and ideals;
- Honoring and upholding the integrity of each individual artist and their creative work;
- Ensuring that Fieldwork occurs in a co-created space that is as responsive, supportive and “safe” a space as possible;
- Working towards and maintain a respectful atmosphere that aims to support and uplift racial and cultural equity so that all artists have access to the skills, opportunities and experiences that will help them to reach their full potential and achieve their definition(s) of success;
- Checking in with ones-self before, during and after the Fieldwork process to embrace and push through discomfort and ambiguity in the creation and viewing of new work.
STRUCTURE OF WORKSHOP
- Show work
- Gather in a circle
- Give feedback about each piece in the order it was shown
- If time allows, open discussions
TIPS FOR GIVING FEEDBACK The goal is to give honest, immediate, specific feedback about your experience of each piece. Part of the rigor required here is in the ability to enter into a variety of different works with equal generosity. The core of this is to reflect back to the artist what you saw. This can include:
- What struck you, surprised you, distanced you, and/or confused you
- The structure and its relationship to the work as a whole
- The social, political, and/or the historical context of the piece
- Your emotional responses and gut reactions
- Comments related to your understanding of the work’s intent
- Specific examples that support your comments
- Stating the obvious; which is sometimes very helpful to artists
- Accepting the premise of the piece - its world, its aesthetic, its racial, cultural or social perspective - and then giving feedback from within that model.
It is important for each participant to consider how their own race, gender, cultural background etc. might help or hinder their understanding of the work.
TIPS FOR SHOWING WORK AND RECEIVING FEEDBACK The goal is to receive specific information about how your work is coming across to different viewers. To facilitate this:
- Show your work without any preambles or explanations (unless the group decides to provide necessary context (for instance race, culture or other identifiers) that clarify the lens through which the work should be viewed
- If you like, provide any information that would be in the program (e.g. title)
- Remember your role is to receive the feedback and retain your autonomy over the work. To do this, absorb the feedback by refraining from responding to comments or defending your work. If you feel like the feedback is too much or is biased by race, gender, culture or other isms, the facilitator will lead the group to ensure that the artist’s work and vision is centered authentically and respectfully.
- Ask for clarification on a specific comment if you didn’t understand what was said - comments can often be understood (or misunderstood) in many ways
- Consider after all the feedback is given whether you want to ask about a neglected aspect of the work, such as the music or the costume
- Revel in the amount of information you've received and use it to help your work to further your vision.
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Not in New York but interested in participating in Fieldwork? Check out our Field Network sites in the US and Europe.
Melanie Greene | she/her