What I think of McGown critique

All names and situation have been changed.

Cindy was in her last phase of becoming a certified McGown teacher. For her last project she had to instruct a student to hook a McGown pattern, and she had to dye the wool for it. Margie agreed to hook the rug under her instruction. Cindy and Margie consulted. Margie selected a floral rug. Margie and Cindy discussed color and Cindy dyed the wool for the project. Margie worked for a year on the rug - it was very big - hooking a perfect mat in 3 and 4 cut wool. Her technique was perfect in terms of McGown requirements - a completely flat rug with a completely flat and even back. Cindy was excited and proud to take the mat to the teacher workshop and show it off. Then came the critique. All agreed that the mat was perfectly executed and beautifully interpreted. Except one teacher who told Cindy that there was one fault. Cindy had dyed the wool for one of the stems gray. The teacher said that it should have been dyed green. Cindy returned home with her teacher's certification and told Margie what had happened. Margie was disappointed.

Now let's think about this. Who has the authority to tell another artist that a stem should be green instead of gray? How does one determine that a mat would be better if the color of a stem was different? Who does such a critique serve? Does it help Cindy? And even more disturbing, does it help Margie who spent a year hooking a rug for Cindy's certification, who was part of the decision-making process about the color in the first place, and who hooked the rug in the way she saw fit and liked?

Think about this further. Every time Margie takes out that gorgeous rug and looks at it, what is she going to think? Is she going to look at it and think, "Gosh I love this rug I hooked and I am proud of how beautiful it turned out"? Or is she going to think, "Well the rug would be perfect if that stem had been dyed green instead of gray"? Knowing Margie, she is going to think the latter. This is the real shame of this situation. The stem critique will always hang over this rug and be heavy on Margie's heart.

Let's consider this type of 'critique' very carefully. Let's be very aware of any critique we give, and what we do with critique that we receive whether solicited or not. Most of us have been afraid of art since grade school when we started to learn that there were right ways to draw things, right colors for painting objects, and that the right way was whatever the teacher told us.

If we are going to grow as an artistic community, we need to be free to express ourselves in our rugs in whatever manner we see fit. We don't need to be limiting each other to particular views of how a rug should look or a particular design be executed. We need generosity of spirit, and suggestions for improving areas of rugs that we the hookers of the rugs are not satisfied with. There is a difference between helping a student fix a problem in a rug that is bothering a student, and telling a student who is satisfied with her rug that her interpretation is wrong or could be better if such and such were changed. The former is helpful. The latter is harmful.