“Critiques are incredibly important. It’s the time when you get to put your work up and a group of people take time to just focus on you. It’s rare that you have a group of experts talk about you and your art.”
MFA students participate in Review Boards at the end of their first three semesters and in group or individual critiques every semester. The critiques provide an opportunity for students to engage in discussions of their work and receive valuable feedback from their peers. The Review Boards serve as checkpoints during the two years to assess progress and provide another opportunity for thoughtful discourse regarding their work.
Types of Critiques
In each of the four semesters of the MFA program, students participate in a Graduate Critique course. Focusing on verbal and written articulation critiquing skills, the Graduate Group Critique provides a structured forum for students to identify and articulate what they want to express. During their second year, students also have the option to select Individual critiques for a more focused, one-to-one opportunity with a faculty member. Learning to express concerns, issues, and motivations, as well as the best strategies to do so, will form the basis of their research and practice. Analytical and evaluative skills develop as students gain experience critiquing and questioning their peers.
Graduate students are required to meet with their graduate faculty advisor at least four times a semester to discuss the progress of their current work. Students must also meet with their academic advisor, the Associate Director of Graduate Programs, once each semester for guidance in selecting studio and liberal arts courses that are most appropriate to their path of study.
At the end of each semester, all students enrolled in two or more credits of studio art classes have a Review Board. MFA students meet with a team of two faculty and one graduate student for their review. The faculty and student reviewers critique and assess the body of work produced over the semester.
This process gives students and faculty the opportunity to think about art as the effect of integrated creative research, rather than as a set of isolated pieces created in different classes. By seeing the semester's work as a whole, faculty and students at the Review Board are able to recognize the explicit and implicit relationships between the works. This ability to understand the work, where the context is determined by the artist, allows the Review Board participants to draw out the artist's organizing questions, ideas, and aims that might not have been readily apparent. This experience also provides an opportunity for the student to articulate and better understand the integration of their studio projects and related academic work.
At the second Review Board, a determination is made as to whether the graduate student can move on to their thesis year. The approval process is managed, and ultimately determined, by the specific faculty members participating in each Review Board. The outcome of the approval process is recorded in the student’s Review Board folder and submitted back to the Registrar’s Office.