5 in 5 crit notes (warning: loooong)

July 3, 2-6 pm

[I’m not sure posting this is a great idea.  It might be worthwhile if it helps a classmate flesh out their own crit notes.]

general announcements:

–go to Vox Populi on Friday (first Friday),

look for the Grizzly Grizzly show,

look up Hilary Harkness

–visit the PaFA museum

(reciprocal relationship with Uarts)

–see national portrait gallery

A. Hamilton with eyebrow crawling off face?

look for how context is established


-used the word icon to describe her current work, but didn’t mean it in reference to the religious connotations and was therefore urged to find a word that better described it (archetype? stereotype? caricature? character?)

-makes us the judges, leaves a bare minimum of visual info (trying to do with men what she did with women last summer)

Robert Colescott–corners of different ideas from the rest of the ptg.

-[I wanted to comment/ask about the figure with the different eyes.  At winter crit she also had a figure with one ambiguously blind (pupil-free) eye.  It’s unsettling, and that’s a very useful tool.  I know it’s a minor detail, but I want to see more of that.  It makes all her other distortions stronger in impact and intentionality.]


-loves pattern, texture, fabrics, layers and overlapped things, depicting fabric patterns via paint, piping paint

-references:  working at Tropicana for decades, piping cakes

-Dan recommended to consider painting as an excuse to think a think (avoid formulas)

Paul DeMuro–pattern

-it’s a problem if you see the same color working in the same way for each painting (a self-check for all of us to perform now and then)



-most popular was the photo of her daughter (the first time seeing her after an interval of 8 mo.) cut out of the image and glued off to the side (all about missing her)

-I suggested she look at Wilhelm Stahle (cutouts that relate in content to the original image but aren’t a direct removal of an object that’s in the photo)

-will she choose to manipulate photos of her children or take photos of others’ children this summer?


-paintings dissected and presented perpendicular to the wall (one photo source for all five)

-shadows cast by one painting onto the others…make it work for you

-is showing the key image giving us too broad a hint?

-ideas:  obscure paintings with other paintings, non-uniform scale of paintings, consider how to frame them (or eliminate it)

-[it’s an intriguing idea.  I wonder if G. Nichols’s talk will/did influence it]


Lenore Tawneyintimate relationships of materials

-art history “a party where you have to ask yourself who you want to hang with”

-I suggested Robert Kushner as an example of an artist that uses decoration (and flowers)

-five minutes lecture to her (and us) on the value of being in the studio for access to peers…really?  Didn’t they know she’d moved in less than an hour before the crit?  (And why didn’t I speak up?  Too nervous about my impending doom, no doubt)


-try not to skimp on the materials (their expense is part of the irony of the case)

-foam looks like a portfolio [about this time I realized that people hadn’t understood from my intro comments that this was just a mockup of the project]

-cover with leather or suede

-talk to the bookbinding center about how to display these objects, 9th floor B. center, name drop Rebecca to the two techs whose names she forgot

-that perennial issue of how I intend people to interact with the art…this and the polyptych format assume a small group of viewers at any one time

-Dan characterizes my work right now as “Benton meets icon painters” (seems a bit fixated on the idea that my figurative painting is…quirky?  Is that his favorite word for it?)

-do these games with context help or hurt the content?

-I mentioned that there seemed to be a strong emphasis in the program/art at large of reconsidering the role of painting (not just a window or decor, but what else can we make of it?). Rebecca latched onto that idea. I was then told at length about how there’s a fad in art academia to prefer mixed media or interdisciplinary work.  Perhaps that was just to be certain that we were all on the same page (or that we all knew that it was merely a fad), since her point seemed to be that painting for the sake of painting can be a subversive or courageous artistic decision.  (But rhopographic still lifes weren’t?  C’est la vie.  Maybe it will make sense to me one day.)

-Dan and others felt that the issues of formal structure nixed the paintings.  They see it as too theatrical. [Irony alert!]  I see their point, but floated the fact that when I present paintings qua paintings…little response is given at these crits.

-After the crit, Gia suggested that I could reconcile the two by including e-readers in the paintings.  Or maybe she meant that as a way to access the illuminated manuscript vs. e-reader (expensive and inconvenient aesthetics vs. accessible mass-produced convenience) idea without having to do bookmaking.  Probably one of the more immediately useful things anyone said to me that afternoon, though the others are food for thought too.

-[I appreciate the post-crit pep talks from peers, but I think I should seek out some coaching.  I could just ask everyone individually, but not everyone can be trusted not to smugly rub my face in it.  A quandary.  Maybe I’ll just paint instead.]


-paintings on tarps (with a swimming pool theme)

-Rebecca suggested looking up the rise of the [new new] casualness movement (rough edges as part of the point)

-[I’m such an artistic throwback.  I couldn’t help but be completely horrified by the conservation issues that everyone blithely dismissed.  Aesthetically, they really do end up pulling his painting into the world of mass-produced kitsch.  His painting is too good for that fate!  According to my peers, I’m totally crazy for thinking that the tarp substrate made his art look like beach towels.  (Hopefully I said it more tactfully.  Not sure.  Oh dear.  I’m sorry!)  Are East Coast towels boring/subdued colors and plain designs or something?  I had crazily-patterned and -colored towels in CA!]

-look up Rose Wylie


-setting up unsolvable mazes

-insert big discussion of abstraction here.  cue homages to de Kooning

-[I am fascinated by how this summer (as last) he is using old drawings as art materials.  The connection to memory and rethinking prior trains of thought resonates with the topics I am most interested in now.  The visible splice marks show this effort and create a tension between the fluid marks and their crisp reassembly.  (Reminds me of CB’s series of tight drawings w/ hot glass scorch marks)]


-[I missed her intro because of studio-visiting artist-water bottle drama]

-group recommended that she be less clear and more teasing (in order to prolong/pique viewers’ interest)

-the stacks of books and papers read more as books and papers than the near-abstractions she presented for the spring crit

-she is obviously working with value systems much more consciously than last year (wasn’t bad before, but also wasn’t an important part of how the drawings worked).

-The line of conversation about her color use was too vague to make sense, but it probably related to a previous conversation she had with Dan or Rebecca.

-[Presenting them on a knee-high sculpture stand was an unusual decision.  I know it’s because she didn’t want to mar the paint, but it still made it nearly impossible for people to see the work.  Might a taller stand have been useful?  Either way, it didn’t hurt her crit in the slightest.]


-Nobody commented on it, but her presentation of current and spring term work was impressive.  It was a bit formal to line them all up along a center line, but it really made them seem finished and important.  [Terribly clever, and I need to do the same.]

-machine sewing was suggested to speed up her sewn versions of her boyfriend’s drawings, but I agree that her hand embroidery is a stronger choice.  It gives her a great deal of flexibility to imitate the organic forms of the drawings, it would probably create a much more pleasant and meditative working process, it contrasts the skill of her execution with the source material (suggesting that she’s either showing off or using her technical ability to elevate the merits of the drawing), and it just…looks…better.

-She mentioned her mentor’s assertion that art isn’t therapy.  That conversation was pretty interesting.  I liked what Rebecca said about it being unfair to conscript your viewers as therapists, but that it’s totally reasonable for the process of making art to be therapeutic.

Tracy Emin, sewn art

-that portrait of the woman addicted to meth became more and more compelling as the crit wore on.  The contrast of the flat black hair and Moraiah’s characteristically delicate watercolors was strong but so subtle that it took me a while to realize how well she’d fitted it together.  The way it’s cropped on the right was particularly intriguing.


-characters vs. caricatures

-Dan feels that the quirky digital-ness of the Renaissance appropriations allows us to enter/access them.  He didn’t care for the digital weirdness of the 5 in 5 work.  I loved them, but think it’s really important to see both bodies of work together.  It shows a range of Eric’s interests and technical eloquence. Also…if the deformed, risible, or ugly figures were shown alone it would encourage me to dismiss/belittle them.  They may be hideous, but each has their bestie.  Without that, then they would imply that there are people too repulsive to have value to society.  I doubt Eric believes that, and I certainly wouldn’t want to.  Even if true, it’s too self-defeating…

-Rebecca suggested that Eric ham up some of the deformations even further.

-[Did I fail in my note-taking, or did we really give him so little of substance during his crit?  We did run to silence after 15 min of the 20 min crit.  Uh oh.  As ever, the last person critiqued loses out.]


Next up:

…the obstructions project.  [Totally called it.]  Only two artworks due this time, but the group can pile on as many obstructions as they like.  They also have the right to make us redo a project that fails to satisfy them.

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