Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perfection Paralysis

From Art And Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles and Ted Orland

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 lbs. of pots rates an “A,” 40 lbs. a “B.” and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot- albeit a perfect one- to get an “A.” Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busy churning out piles of work- and learning from their mistakes- the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay… To require perfection is to invite paralysis.

1 comment:

rhon said...

We need only to give ourselves permission to fail.

Easier said than done.