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Lesson Plans

Re: Critiques

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
kprs (kprs)
Sat, 21 Sep 1996 21:01:06 -0700

Alix Peshette wrote:
> > Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 09:03:54 -0500
> > From: Kathleen McCrea <kwmccrea>
> > Organization: Home
> > To: artsednet
> > Subject: Critiques
> Kay McCrea wrote;
> > Recently Terry Barrett at Ohio State University mentioned
> > her desire to begin a dialogue on the subject of past personal
> > experiences with critiques. I sent her the following, and she
> > asked that I share it. She would like a dialogue on this subject.
> > I think this would be beneficial for many of us.
> > My husband and I both got our undergraduate degrees in the
> > 60's. During this time period, it was fashionable for critiques to
> > be extremely harsh, sort of public humiliation events. I learned
> > beneficial design concepts, formalistic concerns from these
> > critiques, but I learned many things that were detrimental in the
> > process. I avoided going back and taking additional studio classes
> > for a number of years just to avoid critiques. Eventually I got a
> > Masters in Art Education; the local university wouldn't let
> > students work toward an MFA unless they were full time students.
> > (I think this is another topic for discussion!) My husband who has
> > an MFA in art had similar critique experiences; he avoids certain
> > media thanks to his critique experiences in those area!
> > As a result of our experiences, we try to make sure that in
> > critiques with our students we have our own students look for
> > positive attributes in each student's work. I feel that this is
> > not artificial, although sometimes difficult. We also make
> > suggestions for improvement in each student's work. Sometimes we
> > hold critiques in which only positive remarks are allowed. I have
> > had several students tell me that the critique experience was one
> > of the most valuable things they learned in high school art classes
> > and that dealing with college critiques was much easier as a
> > result.
> > I wonder if extremely negative critiques were the rule of
> > thumb through a certain time period.
> > Kay McCrea
> > Wichita High School South
> > Wichita, Kansas
> >
> Boy, just reading description of your husband's and your experiences
> in University critiques brought back all those memories for me. I
> too, experienced only harsh, pompous, and humiliating critiques
> during the '70's and 80's while working on two degrees in art. I
> don't remember that there was any beneficial design content during
> these occasions. It was so painful that I still don't attend critiques as an artist
> nor do I do them with my students. I would love to change this!
> Anyone want to discuss successful, humane and constructive critique strategies
> they have used or experience?
> -Alix Peshette

I start my students with critique immediately, and slowly. I begin with
the foundations classes by taking their first works, hanging them up and
putting index cards with numbers over their names. Then everyone in
class gets a sheet of paper with a simple rating system. They rate the
work on originality, success with materials, and if the piece reached the
stated goal. In the beginning I am the goal setter, but as my students
progress they make thesis statements before they create the work, and aim
towards those statements. Then they answer the following questions:
1. Which piece caught your eye. Why?

2. Which piece made you smile. Why?

3. If you had the rest of your life to finish one piece, which one would
you pick to finish, how would you finish it, and why.

4. Which piece is the riskiest? Why?

Then we discuss our answers in class. There are no rights or wrongs.
Kids are surprised to see that their rating system, and answers are all
not the same. They pick the pieces not according to artist, but by the
numbers on the art work. Sometimes I have one class critique another and
visa versa. In this way we avoid the personality factor. Eventually we
work up to separate critique sheets for every piece of work, and at the
end of the day, I collate them and hand them to the artists, so therefore
they will have a full class each of critiques of their work. We then
work to no sheets and verbal critiques only.

I must say that after four years of this type of critique, my students
don't shut up ever when talking and critiquing, and quite frankly make
great interviews when the go for portfolio reviews at college. They are
not afraid to talk about their work, or others for that matter.

San D