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Critique: Why Can't We Change The Norm?

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

*DISCLAIMER: I will be specifically talking about the School of the Art Institute, but from speaking to other art school students, I realize this is so much more than one school or even one kind of art focus.

I've had plenty of bad critiques - I think every semester I've been in art school I've had at least one art piece that is just met with such a lack of care that I've retired the piece entirely. The stories I could tell are absolutely atrocious and not meant for the public eye (privately I don't mind dishing tea). When I began writing this essay, I focused on an interaction I had this semester. But the thing is, we all have these moments in classes where you can tell people just have no idea how to act during a critique.

Partially, I think this stems from the fact that in art school we forget that not every piece of art is meant to speak to every person - we're all on different paths and that's okay.

Because there's this need to be a part of the conversation and fill the silence, especially if the work is one that was not made with them in mind, people will say the most out of touch, unhelpful words to fill up space. When the artist is looking for feedback to make the work better, the last thing we should be doing as peers is discouraging that with awful comments and questions.

The fact that everyone seems to know this feeling as a part of the process is frightening. I go to one of the best art schools in the country and for this to be the norm... it's appalling. So why do we keep allowing our classrooms and spaces to be filled with nonsense? What is it going to take to give everyone a chance to grow instead of being unwatered and uncared for?

For me personally, it means making more noise. We all deserve to get our money's worth and that isn't happening while faculty and higher ups continue to be complacent in this cycle. In order to change the way we as a collective interact with art we have to change the way we so carelessly give our art to people who have no intention of building it up.

read the whole essay on ko-fi at

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