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Calarts Alumni conducts study on art critique

July 14, 2013
Installation Magazine

By Chandler McWilliams

A recent MFA graduate of CalArts, artist Chandler McWilliams examines the scrutiny that every art student endures- the critique.

The group critique has taken on a nearly mythological status as the centerpiece of the contemporary MFA program.  As such it is occasionally attacked as pompous, ineffective, or futile.  Its detractors suggest that a crit is nothing but a rhetorical game played by participants with no real stake in the work of their peers.  If this really is the case, then why does the critique persist? Is it nothing more than an art school version of hazing? Or could it, under the best conditions, offer something to the participants that cannot otherwise be gained?

The standard experience of a work of art—bracketing for the time the new normal of clicking through photographic documentation online—is in a gallery or museum, in silence, perhaps sharing a few hushed comments with a friend.  But more than anything the experience is fast.  Works that don’t catch one up right away are passed over, while more interesting pieces are mulled over for a few minutes.  Occasionally some may ask around about a piece or an artist in an attempt to gain further information, add some more context to the piece or learn more about a practice. Read More

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