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We then put our sketchbooks on the floor, in the middle of the circle, not
particularly near the artist who's sketchbook it was. I told the kids that
everyone in this circle has a very good and intimate idea about all the work
now in front of us. I told them that I did not know who's work was who's,
and that, for now, it wasn't important. I wanted us to look at the work
critically and objectively, and forget about the artist for the moment.
Then I passed out erasers (next time I'll probably use pennies) and I asked a
series of questions like "What drawing reflects the most work?", or "what
drawing reflects a sense of whimsy", etc. We then put our erasers on the
drawing we felt answered the question best. Lastly I asked them which was
their favorite drawing. It was extremely interesting to see where the
erasers fell, to see a visual showing of the kids' opinions. And, yes, some
drawings had no erasers on them during the entire crit, but hopefully it sent
a message to those kids that five minutes worth of work does not stand up in
I'd like to come up with some more questions. Something along the lines of
"pick a drawing you could make a suggestion about to that artist". Or get
them to say one positive and one constructive negative thing about a piece
they choose. Something.
The looking at the work for the allotted time was a great start to the crit.
I think it kept a lot of knee-jerk comments at bay. Kids seemed to like it.
I'm sure I'll try it again.
Norwalk High School