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> In a message dated 96-09-21 11:08:46 EDT, you write:
> << 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 conepts, 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 universitiy 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 expereinces 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
> I wonder if extremely negative critiques were the rule of
> thumb through a certain time period.
> Kay McCrea >>
> I also attended university art school in the 60s and again in the 80s. The
> style of critique I experienced and observed was similar to your experiences
> and observations: ruthless attack and merciless criticism. The professors and
> instructors, mostly male, by the way, seemed to perceive this as some sort of
> rite of passage that a senior undergrad or graduate in a MFA program needed
> to go through. What crap!
> The issue of gender here is important, I think. A sizeable percentage, in
> some cases, a majority of the students were women. The instructors on the
> other hand were men in overwhelming numbers. It dosn't take a genious to see
> what was going on.
> The female instructors I had, by the way, fell into two categories. Those who
> were "political" or self-consciously feminist, in most though not in every
> case, carried out their critiques in a more constructive manner.
I also attended an art institute in the later 1960's. Some of my
instructors wrer older European men who had been trained prior to
WWII and escaped the Nazi menace to teach and make art in the States.
Having come from a Catholic school background I was used to
discipline and order in educational environments. Even so I was not
prepared for the sometimes viscious nature of the critiques in
drawing, painting and design classes. Being (metaphorically) gutted
and flayed was not an expereince easily forgotten ... in fact these
expereinces remain remarkably fresh after almost 30 years! Even so,
I *do* critiques with my studio classes today and generally find
such experiences beneficial. In summary, I found even the most
conservative Sister of Notre Dame no match for my Austrian and German
art instructors when issues of prescribed life/art activity were our
focus. On the positive side, I admire the tenacity and energy of
both groups of teachers. This is something that seems sorely lacking
in today's litigious educational contexts.
Dr. John Antoine Labadie
Dept. of Art
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
PO Box #1510
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Wphone: 910.521.6618 (or sec. at 6216)
"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane."
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.