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Ana Tzarev Headshot

To View Art From Both Sides: The Creator and the Critic

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Ana's Thought: "Critic, be gentle with your words, for they are the arrows that kill the Heart of Inspiration."

For all of its magnificent offerings and dazzling opportunities, the art world is capable of such cruelty. One can pour their soul, the very essence of his or her self, into a creation, only to then stand by as it is smashed apart by a single word of opposition. For every reward shining before the artist at work, there is incalculable risk to one's identity and well-being.

It may serve as a comfort for creative souls to know that acclaim, when it is real, builds slowly. Those whose brilliance flashes in dramatic flares before the public eye will see their success flicker out - as quickly as a stray spark without kindling - and history shall not remember them. Art is a practice, requiring incredible strength and dedication to the patient pursuit of ideas. A genuine life of art cannot be solely an aim for some imagined pinnacle, particularly when the odds of securing that elusive fame are so slim.

In truth, gaining the attention that so many young hopefuls covet offers no guarantee toward a path of éclat. Many of the names in our celebrated creative canon were subject to ridicule and degradation in their own day. Van Gogh, for instance, now seen universally as a gifted genius of art, sold only one work over the course of his career. The patrons and critics active during El Greco's lifetime largely disregarded his exquisitely unique paintings. Outside of visual art, countless wonderful talents - from Carmen composer Georges Bizet to the ineffable Edgar Allan Poe - did not live to see how their efforts touched the lives of so many. The heights of success were only reached long after the ink had dried and the easels covered in dust.

And sometimes, idle ignorance is not the only slight the artist may receive! In 1877, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a spirited painter of life, brought esteemed art critic John Ruskin to court with charges of libel after a particularly unforgiving and misleading review of his work. While Whistler saw victory in the case, the cost of the proceedings left him penniless. He, too, was not recognized for his superior vision until after his death.

To the aspiring creators who feel as though their efforts are wasted, belittled by a harsh world, recall that the eyes of time are sharper and wiser than those of man. In this very moment, there are artists and writers among us making masterpieces, but we will never know of them until their hands have come to rest. The artist is mortal, but her works are immortal. Pursue your passions with the whole of your heart in the hope that the hearts of others will someday sing of your gifts.

To critics, I advise you to be mindful of the power you possess: your craft may make or break the will of another. Be judicious and conscientious, and do not let your position inflate your sense of worth. Above all, be considerate in choosing your words - for someday, history may make you eat them.