Sara on Sarah: Day 2 The Crit

In my new blog series Sara on Sarah, Sarah Thornton spends a very long day (!) in Michael Asher’s famous crit class at the California Institute of the Arts. This often times anxiety-provoking ritual varies from program to program and is an essential stepping stone to improve and develop as an emerging artist.


After All, 42×43.5, acrylic on canvas

According to Sarah’s research different schools and professors have differing philosophies on the development of artists in art school. Some consider that the year 1 of your MFA is devoted to breaking you down and while year 2 is for building you back up.


Sarah notes that artist/teacher John Baldessari believes that “art comes out of failure…you have to try things out, you can’t just sit around terrified of being incorrect…the function of art education is to demystify artists”.  In Mary Kelly‘s critique sessions she says you should empty your mind and then respond to the work and be open to the possibility of what you could know.

Here is a clip from the movie Art School Confidential with John Malkovich as the crit teacher:

The key to developing your art and challenging yourself as an artist is to continue to both give and receive criticism outside of the context of school. Here are some helpful blog posts that can guide those wanting to give and receive feedback for their art:

Artpromotivate has a good summary blog post

Rebecca Crowell has a 3-part blog series about the critique which I found very thorough and interesting.

What types of experiences have you had in art school?

Where there any really difficult situations that pushed you to the next level in your process/journey?




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