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Lesson Plans

criticism in the artroom

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
steve carpenter (
Tue, 31 Mar 1998 11:34:07 -0500 (EST)


The suggestion I posed about conducting critiques in the artroom works in
all grades K-12 and in college. I know this because I have tried it in
these various levels and it works for me. This approach is only one of many
approaches to art criticism and critiques that can be used. The discussions
are usually very informed and helpful for the artists. Feedback is an
essential part of development of a student. Mind you that the teacher does
not just sit back and let the students "grill" each other. Rather, the
teacher must play an active role in facilitating the content of the
critique toward productive ends.

In my example, I suggested that the teacher review with the students the
objective for the assignment. In order to do what I suggested, the teacher
must have a clear idea ahead of time what the lesson/assignment is about.
This is the key to the critique. Certainly judgement enters into a
critique. Judgement is part of criticism. It is part of all of the other
stuff we accept when we choose to put our work in public. That is a part of
the artworld.

Anyway, I am sorry that you had such a tough time with critiques in
college. You are not alone. Many people complain about bad critiques in
college. Then, to further this difficult experience, some of these people
who have endured these difficult critiques use them as the model for their
own critiques they lead as teachers. Bad idea.

>I think it is important to understand and discuss Art.Now when people
>ask what "it" means, I am a loss because I paint intuitively and always
>have.So it is what it is.

Yes it is important to understandand discuss art. Even if you work
intuitively, the work is still about something and whatever it is about can
be revealed through discussions. One time discussions about works of art
usually get us to the point of becoming comfortable with our initial
responses to the work and understanding what questions we have that still
need to be answered. Moving on to answer these questions is very a
important part of understanding the meaning of a work of art. To say "it is
what it is" seems limiting to me and suggests that further inquiry is
needed. The question then is "what is IT."

You need to read Terry Barrett's newest book. His book addresses critiques,
both good annd bad, and he offers suggestions for improvement. I do not
know if it has been published yet but I am sure it will be out soon. He is
probably in Chicago right now for the national convention. I leave tomorrow
morining. I can continue this discussion when I return. Terry (and others
who have conducted research on criticism in the artroom) should enter this
discussion. This is a very important and difficult topic for many art


booker stephen carpenter ll, phd
assistant professor of art & director, art education program
visual arts department
old dominion university
norfolk, virginia 23529
o -757.683.4779 f -757.683.5923

"Skepticism is the first step toward truth."
ODU Art Education:


  • Maybe reply: John & Sandra Barrick: "Re: criticism in the artroom"
  • Maybe reply: John & Sandra Barrick: "Re: criticism in the artroom"