I often ask my students to have a "non-artist" critique their work.
What questions does the viewer have and how would you formulate
questions to get the best responses?
Most often the non-art people want to know "what's it about?"
How do you get people to go beyond I like it or I don't like it? Can
you find value in the "don't likes."
How can you, as an artist, help the understanding-- if your intention
is not perceived -- why?
I always ask first "what choices did you make to solve the problem
What research did you do -- how much was based on guts/emotions?
how does that weigh with the success/weakness of the compositional
elements needed to convey intention?
"What do you see?"
My best painting teacher in college spent an enormous time on "what
do you see?" He would just flip slides of works and say what do
you see -- not what you think you see but what do you see? When I
finally learned to see -- then I could learn to ask the questions.
What is there, and what is interpreted to be there causes the
questions-- and that leads to how we better make the intentions.
I almost always see more connections in my students work than they
see. When I make those connections I hope I am only helping them to
make the bridges -- and then it often turns into an interesting game
play. I use language and literature a lot. I'm a visual person ,
but when I view works I find that my interpretations translate to
words. The more I can make the equivalency of the words to images the
better I can make them be visual communicators.
What are the symbols and metaphors? how are you making visual language?
>> Sometimes I have found that as a teacher I was misconstruing the
>> student's intentions. Had I started with a suggestion instead of a
>> question, I would have been totally off base.
This is so where the questions become critical. Why did you make
the choice and how can you justify it? when I ask enough questions I
can be convinced. And when intention/ideas becomes the main focus
I can teach.
On May 9, 2008, at 9:46 PM, Marvin Bartel wrote:
> Linda in Oregon wrote:
>> For the past couple of years one of our school goals is around
>> creating a culture of reflection and critique. Last year we had a
>> "gallery" of work that showed student work from question through
>> process to product in all disciplines.
>> This year we want kids to respond to the works. While there are
>> some content based questions that will be used, we would like some
>> "generic" critique questions to pose. Of course I have some ideas
>> but I am looking for some suggestions. You all are the best and I
>> am sure I am overlooking something :-) Thanks for any help!
> This is a very good topic. I find that many art teachers avoid
> using critiques because of unpleasant experiences and lack of ideas
> on how to conduct critiques well. When critique is well done (when
> we take the psychological effects into account) it can be a very
> helpful way to for art students to learn. Without good critiques, I
> believe that half of the potential learning is lost.
> I watched Terry Barrett conduct a critique with our students. He
> started by asking, "What do you see?"
> Then he affirmed the observation and asked for elaboration.
> A standard thinking mode follow-up question used by many teachers
> is, "Why do you say that?" or "Why you think so?"
> I attended a critique workshop in about 1975 with Douglas Stuart. I
> no longer have a copy of his list of questions. But his questions
> went something like this:
> What do you notice first?
> Why do you notice it?
> What is the second thing you notice?
> What feelings do you get from the work?
> What do you think were the intentions of the artist?
> Were the intentions obvious or obscure?
> I once discussed critique methods with Dr. J. Daniel Hess, a
> colleague and a writing teacher. He had just written a book on
> critique. We talked about the sandwich method where a teacher
> starts with a compliment, then makes suggestions about correcting a
> mistake, and ends the conversation with another compliment. Dan
> pointed out that the student only remembers the meat (the critical
> part), It does not leave a good feeling. Inspiration is lost.
> Motivation is dampened.
> Dan said that the teacher or peer doing the critique should to do
> it with questions -- not suggestions -- not corrections. The person
> doing the critique owns the perceived problems and is asking for
> clarification of the creator's intentions without naming the
> problem directly. The creator gets to become aware of the issue
> herself instead of being told that there is a problem. Sometimes I
> have found that as a teacher I was misconstruing the student's
> intentions. Had I started with a suggestion instead of a question,
> I would have been totally off base.
> Therefore, instead of using questions to be answered by the person
> doing the critique, what if the person doing the critique is
> instructed to phrase the kind of questions that would help the
> artist become aware of the ways their own work is being seen or
> misconceived by the viewer?
> For your purposes, maybe the critique questions need to be
> something on this order:
> What questions would you ask the artist to encourage the artist to
> become even more creative?
> What questions would you ask the artist to help you understand the
> work better?
> What questions would you ask the artist to help the artist see the
> work more like you see it?
> Best wishes.
> Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
> Adjunct in Art Education
> Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
> studio phone: 574-533-0171
> http://www.bartelart.com > http://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/art-ed-links.html > "Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked,
> "What is art?"
> "You can't never know how to do it before you never did it
> before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.
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