Local artists brought their work in for constructive feedback through the premiere Yellowknife Artists Run Community Centre (YK ARCC) Tough Love Art Critique program, Feb. 16 to 17.

The experience is irreplaceable in Yellowknife, according to Sarah Swan, lead director of YK ARCC.

“There’s nothing offered in the way of ideas or concepts or how to think about your art practice, how to work on and develop your subject matter and your themes, and what your artwork is trying to communicate,” Swan said. “There is nothing in the way of that offered here.

“I feel like sometimes that talent and skill goes unnoticed, because there is no art infrastructure in Yellowknife,” she added.

The overall reaction to the initiative was both “positive and overwhelming,” according to Swan.

A dozen artists — two nights with six artists each — were in attendance to put their work on display for other artists to assess at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre.

“We decided just to keep it small to begin with because that kind of thing can feel very vulnerable when you’re just starting out, getting artwork critiqued,” said Swan. “We ended up with a wide variety of media. We had two photographers, we had five painters, a couple of drawers and sketchers, and then we had somebody who’s making three-dimensional work.”

Those involved ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s.

“We’re still getting feedback from the participants, but most of the feedback we received so far was really positive,” said Swan. “I think the artists were nervous, but they were really brave and vulnerable to come and have their work critiqued.”

YK ARCC would now like to see the program run on a bi-monthly basis.

“Everyone wants to do it again,” Swan said. “We’re a volunteer-run organization, so it’s a matter of time for us. Then, also, we have to secure grant funding. We have to rent the space that we’re in, that sort of thing.”

The biggest takeaway for Swan is that the program will continue to provide a necessary service in the Yellowknife arts and culture community.

“When you, as an artist, learn how others are reading or seeing your work, it only helps you better define your own art and your own practice,” she said.

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