Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Critical Response to Art Projects

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It’s a dirty little secret in art and design education that the beloved routine of the “critique” or “crit” doesn’t work. Although many tutors cling to it as an essential way of providing guidance and feedback, plenty of research has shown that it leaves the vast majority of students confused and, in some cases, distressed (trust me, I’ve seen the tears – and from normally “tough” students).
The only purpose the crit appears to serve is to emphasise the tutor’s status as alpha male (or female, but it’s usually male).

The crit was wonderfully lampooned in “Art School Confidential” by Daniel Clowes (transferred moderately well from comic book to big screen in 2005).

The big problem with crits is coming up with things to say. From my observations they have to sound profound, critical and completely vague and meaningless so that what a student thinks is “encouraging” can later be claimed to have been a warning of dire consequences. And with so many students these days, it’s becoming much more difficult to come up with something new.

What we need is a tool to create endless amounts of critical responses to art projects (CRAP) from a few random seeds. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the CRAP generator!

Click the green button to start!

Disclaimer: the words come from a document circulating among staff at the university I worked at, and I don’t know who wrote them (I added some of my own).

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the research I mentioned, drop me a line and I’ll send you a list. It’s interesting that I’ve never found one bit of research that suggests the crit is a positive experience for anyone other than the person doing it.

Art and design degrees ‘need overhaul’, say academics

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

The Guardian reports that:

A group of 50 academics have called for major changes to be made to the teaching of art and design at UK universities after a review concluded it was not fit for purpose.

The Group for Learning in Art and Design (Glad), a forum of academics who discuss learning in the sector, said teaching needed to better prepare students for work in a fast-paced, changing world.


Students should learn more than the bones of their own subject to reflect ‘the multi-disciplinary nature of the creative industries’, and work with different groups of people during their studies.

Prof Linda Drew, dean of academic development at the University of the Arts London and editor of the study, said: ‘The creative industries have changed dramatically and so must we. Art education is at risk of becoming conservative – it is important that art and design remains at the cutting edge of higher education.’

Teaching staff should also be given extra training to improve the general quality of education, says the report.

The GLAD conference is taking place next week where I’m assuming this report will feature prominently.

This echoes much of what was discussed at New Views 2 in July (see this post, this one and this one).

So we’re all agreed. Let’s get on and do it, shall we?

Rimer Cardillo

Monday, August 11th, 2008

I met Rimer Caardillo when I was in New Paltz, New York in April visiting State University New York. I was really impressed with his work and his approach to print-making which was reflected in his students’ approach.

Rimer has an exhibition coming up shortly in Andes, NY so if you’re in the area you should pop along. Check out his web site here.

Chace-Randall Gallery

Contemporary Fine Art

49 Main St, Andes, NY 13731


August 15 – October 5, 2008

Reception: Saturday, August 16, 5-7pm

Can’t be arsed to be rational

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Michael Lewis, Professor of Art at Williams College claims in the Wall Street Journal that

It is often said that great achievement requires in one’s formative years two teachers: a stern taskmaster who teaches the rules and an inspirational guru who teaches one to break the rules. But they must come in that order. Childhood training in Bach can prepare one to play free jazz and ballet instruction can prepare one to be a modern dancer, but it does not work the other way around. One cannot be liberated from fetters one has never worn; all one can do is to make pastiches of the liberations of others.

Sometimes you want to give a really reasoned and rational response to things like this.

And sometimes you just want to say “bollocks”.

It’s funny how the only people that say these things are the people whose jobs and reputations depend on it being true…