3 Ideas

  1. Be clear but not simplistic.
  2. Be complex without jargon.
  3. Mirror the tone of the exhibit.

These three ideas have been dancing around in my mind since last week’s discussion on voice and tone. At first thought, they seem to be simple ideas, but they soon become quite complicated. My questions are endless:

How simplistic should I be for different audiences?

How complex can I be within my word limit?

Can I use some jargon? What is off limits? Is jargon sometimes necessary?

Gilda Williams attempts to answer a lot of these questions by comparing multiple writings on the same artist but each in a different context. Before our class discussion, I felt like Williams laid everything out there and basically gave me a how-to on voice, but after our discussion raised more and more questions and left me with three complicated ideas, I have concluded that the only way to fully grasp voice and tone is to immerse myself in it. I am now determined to dive into the world of art criticism by subscribing to different websites, both academic and casual, seeing more exhibits and reading more artists statements and reviews on works I’ve seen myself, and following art critiques and comparing multiple writings from them.  I am also registered for Chad Dawkin’s curatorial practice class next semester which will definitely keep me involved in the art criticism world.

Will this help me to better understand voice and tone? Definitely.

Will I be able to successfully use voice and tone in my own writing? Hopefully.




  1. I also find that Gilda Williams’s writing was expanded on in class and can see how the points laid out by Williams can now (after our discussion) seem less simple. The answer to Chris’s questions for me are a matter of two things: personal preference (what is purposely said or left out), and experience with different audiences. It’s a great idea to subscribe to various types of art criticism. I would suggest, once feeling comfortable with the subscriptions, to expand and read art critiques from different countries. This will only expand the reader’s knowledge of how to answer the three questions, as there will be examples of how to from different cultures.


  2. Gilda Williams I agree is a great source to refer to. I am currently in Chad Dawkins Curatorial Practices class and we thus far have only done one art review, as the class is primarily based on the history and development of curating. Even though the course is not based on critiques voice and tone is primary even when creating a simple letter of intent for an exhibition proposal. The points you stated (Be clear but not simplistic. Be complex without jargon. Mirror the tone of the exhibit) still come into play when writing anything for an art review or exhibit proposal. What I have learned from both Erina and Chad’s courses may be able to shed some light on the questions you proposed.

    How simplistic should I be for different audiences?

    How complex can I be within my word limit?

    Can I use some jargon? What is off limits? Is jargon sometimes necessary?


    • It accidentally sent. So to continue, the text should be simplistic enough that a viewer who may have no idea what art is will be able to understand, yet complicated enough so to spark an interest to go and see the given work or exhibit and to avoid potentially insulting the intelligence of the viewer/reader. Jargon is one thing Chad emphasizes avoiding. When reading jargon the viewer can get lost in translation, jargon simply complicates what can be a simple idea or concept. Making it not necessarily harder for the viewer to understand (though that does occur) but to me and a few I have talked to, jargon can come off as a means of over compensation in an attempt to make an exhibit seem better than what it is (this is not to say the exhibit is a bad one).


  3. Chris, thank you for acknowledging that questions still remain with you even after learning the tools and concepts of voice and tone in writing. I think it is crucial, especially in this course, that we as students continually ask and have questions. Because how are we to improve if we don’t recognize the fact in which we do not know everything about critique writing. I also find that your conclusion to immerse yourself in voice and tone, and those be your sole focus, to be tremendously helpful. I think that is a solid good foundation to improve on this aspect of writing. I know I have trouble with deciphering what it is that my tone is, and even more so my voice. But it is refreshing to practice writing when you have one objective to get across to your audience, and then without realizing it, you find your voice. This happened to me last class when we had our peer review. I went into it not entirely knowing what my voice was, and then I was instructed on ways to improve my voice and tone.

    Rachael Pantuso


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