Uttering the words “mid-year critique” in early December to a second-year student is likely to induce an excited and petrified reaction simultaneously.  Can you imagine the courage it takes for a student to stand in front of an audience of their peers with their work as a backdrop explaining their intent and point of view to a group of esteemed faculty and visiting critics including Alex Kanevsky in under a minutes or less?  Sprinkle in the Dean of Academic Affairs, Peter Drake, Academy President David Kratz and you have quite the all-star squad ready to not only challenge and question the student’s techniques but the success of their outcome. Staying present during this fifteen minute critique is no small feat, especially with the camera rolling and recording every word.  However, beyond the fear and vulnerability lies inspiration that creates the space to expand and grow.

In this blog post, Adam Cross (MFA 2014) shares his experience:

From the moment I stood to present my art pieces, I began to feel a sense of relief.  Soon this public review of my work would be over, and at least now it had finally begun. All of the hard work, preparation, and anticipation for this event – the Mid-Year Critique at the New York Academy of Art – was under way.

 As silence began to fill the room, I was given the floor to introduce my work, and suddenly became fully aware of the fact that I now had the attention of the entire audience.   As I let this realization sink in, I skimmed the assembly I faced.  The first row of the all-star crowd staring back at me represented my critics – esteemed and admired professionals of the contemporary art world who were among my favorite living artists.   Beyond that sat my colleagues, an equally talented and inspirational group of artists, possessing sharp minds and skillful hands.  My fellow classmates were also capable of sophisticated critical feedback – evidenced by numerous faculty and peer discussions of each other’s works throughout the semester – but were resigned to remain silent this time, as they were not permitted comment during the Mid-Year Critiques.
Looking out, I pondered what an honor it is to be counted among these peers with this unique chance to receive comments from such a talented and accomplished panel of reviewers.  Once I introduced my work, and was able to say mostly what I had intended, it was now my turn to listen. Having talked with alumni of their experience “before the firing range,” I was told the experience was for most people like a “black out” and would be “over before you realize it.”  However, for me, it was just the opposite.  I felt as if I was wide awake for my own surgery, but rather unlike being under the knife, it was relatively painless.  Although difficult at times to remain quiet, I knew from past personal experiences that being defensive would be selfish, senseless and only rob me of valuable expert feedback.  What my critics offered was their fair, insightful and, sincere reactions that I feel so fortunate to have received.  As difficult as the truth was to hear, the honesty they provided will help to shape me as an artist, enabling me to create the best work I am capable of producing, and I know this was their goal.

To learn more about Adam and his work visit:

Interested to experience mid-year critiques for yourself?  Find past critiques on Academy’s Vimeo channel.

No comments:

Post a Comment