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Lesson Plans

Skoglund on ArtsEdNet-Reply (Criticism)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Scott Walters (
Fri, 2 Feb 1996 15:07:29 +0000

>When Sydney Walker and I use the term "criticism" we mean thoughtful
>verbal responses to works of art. As Nancy Walkup suggests, we do
>stress interpretation. Criticism, however, can and often does entail
>judgments. When critical judgments are offered they should have an
>appraisal of worth based on reasons which are grounded in criteria.
>As an art educator, I think interpretations are more important than
>judgments. Judgments without interpretations are irresponsible and
>irresponsive. As a teacher I can elicit positive judgments by asking
>"How is this work of art good?"

Yes, although we also need to teach our kids to learn from criticism that
isn't positive. Young artists need to develop a separation between their
selves and their work, so that they can find useable information in all
responses to their work. In many respects, the negative responses can be
more helpful than the positive. There is always room for improvement, and
artists who can't accept negative criticism, by implication seem to believe
that their art is perfect and cannot be improved. There is no room for
development there. The key, as you note, is to make the criteria clear, so
there is a context for the response. If I am valuing art because the
object represented closely resembles the actual object, and as an artist
you are not ATTEMPTING to do a realistic portrayal of the object, then your
comments are not particularly useful. But if I am trying to realistic
portrayal, your comments are valuable, and I should get my ego out of the
way so that I can hear what you are saying. We must insist on craft as
well as good intentions -- our artists must master their craft as a means
of expressing their artistry. Criticism is part of that process.

College of Fine Arts
Illinois State University
Normal IL 61790

  • Maybe reply: henry: "Re: Skoglund on ArtsEdNet-Reply (Criticism)"