Discussing Art Criticism.

Prior to actually stepping into the class, Art Criticism and Writing posed as a threat to my comfort zone on speaking in general as well as introducing my opinion to others in a thought provoking discussion on various topics. I’ve learned not only what Art Criticism is, but what it can do for me as part of my skill set in my pursuit of becoming a curator.

Our last class discussion was a 3-hour long introduction on art criticism as a form in terms of evaluations meant to ignite interest and draw attention. There are different types of criticism such as speculative, descriptive, etc. There were three main groups that ranked from either giving non-bias information, or lending one’s opinion, with a positive or negative impact on the artist, as well as a combination of two. It was even more helpful that we had an art critic as a lecturer.

Coming across various types of professors, a student tends to have expectations of how a lecture typically goes pertaining to presentation and structure. As not all students are similar neither are faculty, I still was not quite prepared to handle Chad Dawkins, guest speaker of our last lecture, who works for Texas State as an associate curator. Initially, he was an artist who became an art critic kick-started by his blog “Publicity Stunted.” He was insightful, expressive, and intimidating with having had so much experience this far in his life. I found him to be openly opinionated and entertaining. Overall, the classroom environment is promising and I hope to learn more and gain resources as I begin to take my steps toward the art world and into my chosen career field.

-Rebecca Alvarado

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4 comments

  1. I agree with Rebecca on our guest speaker, Chad Dawkins, and his interesting views on the art world. He was very honest about what it is really like to be an art critic; the good, the bad and the ugly, and how to see art criticism as both the writer and the audience viewing the writing. He says you have to develop a thick skin and I agree with that. He went on to mention the three types of approaches to art writing; descriptive (facts, formal analysis, objectiveness, etc.), speculative (theoretical, art-historical, etc.), and critical (judgement with or without context). He was very unpretentious and helped show us some very interesting website resources to give us a better idea of what people are really writing about in cyberspace. He helped open my eyes to the fact that art critics are who they are because they love what they do, through feast and famine. It’s in the blood.

    -Kellye Son

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  2. Art Criticism has always been outside of my confront zone but just like you I did not realize the important role it has for a curator. The lecture was very informative and detailed I really enjoyed Chad Dawkins presentation. The one thing that struck me was that many people don’t see the importance of it (I was one of them) and how it makes everything in the art world go round. Without it we would not have curators today. Being an art critic is a hard and frustrating job but the passionate they have it is incredible. I highly respect them.

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  3. I feel very similar to Rebecca, this class is a little outside my comfort zone but that excites me. I also aspire to be a curator so being able to hear a lecture from an actual curator was an incredible experience. I love that Chad was completely transparent and spoke freely. As Rebecca mentioned the differences among faculty, I believe Chad was an excellent example of that. He has worked his way around the art world and has taken on many different roles in that time. It was very inspiring to see a living example of the flexible nature of the art world and life in general. Chad showed me that one does not have to choose between artist, critic, curator, or historian, but rather can take on each of these roles in succession or simultaneously. He also gave us plenty of resources that will help align ourselves and become more entangled in the art world. I believe this experience in art criticism will aid Rebecca and myself in our pursuit of becoming a curator. I am now even more excited to take Chad’s curatorial practice class next semester, especially once I have some experience working with art criticism and artists one-on-one.

    -Chris Machemehl

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  4. Rebecca, I also was a little unsure and skeptical about Chad Dawkins leading our class, considering all I knew about him was that he was the Texas State Gallery Director. I did not know what to expect and couldn’t help feeling as if he was going to give a lecture and most of the material go over my head. I definitely was surprised and honestly relieved upon hearing his opinions about what this profession really entails: low income, hard work, and a fair share of negative people. I did not expect to hear someone tell us the actual “truth”, which seemed to kind of be an elephant in the room, about being a part of the art criticism world. However, it was refreshing to hear from someone directly involved in the field and who has been and seen each step of being an art critic.

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