Josh Lacaillade
Equinox Staff

All styles of art are subjective to the admirers and the critics.

Art majors attending Keene State College are aware of the critiques they receive daily, and the criticism they will face from the art industry in the future.

KSC offers a wide variety of specializations within the art and design program students can pursue, including studio art, graphic design and even a specialization in arts management. In addition, art majors are required to choose from a diverse selection of classes, ranging from painting to even art history. Students also have the option to take independent studies and internships to get real world experience in the art industry. No matter the field of art students wish to pursue, criticism is inevitable.

Art majors typically receive criticism in the classroom. However, the pandemic has forced art professors to rely on Zoom as their platform for evaluating their students’ work. Randall Hoyt, an art and design professor, has used constructive criticism as a tool in his classroom. He believes criticism is beneficial for his students to grow as artists.

“For the most part, I find that the students that I talked to are very receptive and want to incorporate the ideas of criticism,” said Hoyt. “That’s the process in which they make you stronger.”

Art majors at Keene State face criticism from their professor and peers every class as described by Ivy Hill. Hill, a senior at KSC studying fine and studio art, describes the criticism she receives in her graphic design classes as “overwhelming” and “brutal.”

“In my graphic design classes, there’s a lot of criticism on your actual work,” said Hill. “Every single aspect of what you do is critiqued by the whole class, as well as the professor.”

Other art students at Keene State had very different experiences of criticism in the classroom. Victoria Connors, a senior studying studio art describes “mean” criticism as a rare occurrence in the studio art department.

“There’s a very welcoming and positive community in the art major,” said Connors. “People are always really nice when you give you criticism.”

Hill and Connors can agree on one thing: the criticism they receive from fellow artists and professors is fair. Hill also believes the feedback from students and professors is useful to the creative process.

“I really think [criticism] does help us,” said Hill. “In the end, everyone seems to be happy with the end result after a full month of being criticized.”

Professors that come from a variety of art backgrounds understand the impact criticism has on their students’ work. Hoyt argues that criticism is a key component in college learning.

“The only educational benefits of being in college is to get criticism on your work,” said Hoyt.

While giving criticism, art professors understand their opinions on students’ work may not resemble how the student truly feels about their own work. Hoyt said that criticism is not a new way of teaching, it’s been around for thousands of years.

In the end, art students and professors believe that despite the benefits of criticism, art can be interpreted in infinite ways by critics. That’s the beauty of art, there is no right or wrong way to approach the canvas.

“I would say the nature and types of critiques are subjective,” said Hoyt. “We don’t live in an objective world.”


Josh Lacaillade can be contacted at:

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