Looking and Talking About Art- Every Day at Marwen

We encourage our teaching artists to look at and talk about artwork every day with their students. We want to provide opportunities for students to practice talking and writing about what they see and- from the moment they walk in the door – work to create a safe space for them to share opinions.

Last night at the fall pre-term meeting we talked about the goal or purpose of critiques in Marwen’s studio courses. Many perspectives were shared by our teaching artists and assistant teaching artists:

  • To see through someone else’s eyes 
  • To show respect and give each other a space to share
  • For our students to learn how to talk about art, and carry that knowledge with them beyond Marwen to college.
  • To practice public speaking
  • To develop goals for the work being created
  • For students looking for community and peer validation
  • To understand that participation in critique should not be taken for granted.  Critique allows for moments of generosity and honesty, and a chance to be visible.
  • To become mindful of ones personal art practice
  • To challenge assumptions made about work; it is a chance to guide students’ thinking  and to open their eyes to others’ viewpoints
  • To positively reinforce ideas and concepts that are being taught in the course
  • To see how other people use the materials and techniques differently. Celebrating that is huge. Showing that  there is more that one way to work 
  • It is an opportunity to validate the opinions of students who might not have as much confidence- it is confidence building practice
  • To present ideas up front- before students even begin projects. To hear how articulate how they want to execute their work and to get ideas from others from the start
  • As a teaching artist we need to get over the fear of engaging students in dialogue. Don’t shy away from talking about ideas- challenge yourself and your students
  • You can be subtle at times- sprinkle it in there! “hey guys! check out what so and so is doing with this technique”
  • As a Marwen alumni and now teaching artist- I found that critiquing at Marwen made it easier at art school. I already had it down here, so at school I was ready and I loved it!

We also practiced a strategy for looking and talking about art:
VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies) 
  • What’s Going On In This Picture?  VTS on NYTimes Blog: The Learning Network- a great reoccurring segment which asks the 3 main vts questions of photographs in the news. 
    • What’s going on in this picture?
    • What do you see that makes you say that?
    • What more can you find?

More on Critique on Verve:

Kate Adams About Kate Adams
Kate Adams is an artist, teaching artist, and mom. As a Marwen staff member she oversees Marwen’s teaching artist professional development, student assessment, and program evaluation. Through her artwork she explores concepts of home, generations and change. You can reach her at kadams@marwen.org

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