June 16, 2019
We’ve been doing live art critiques on our YouTube channel for several months now, and I have been incredibly impressed by not only the diversity of people who are submitting, but the content of the artwork itself. Over the years I’ve continually kept an eye on what other instructional visual arts platforms feature in terms of content. I think the type of artwork that gets featured on a platform is usually one of the quickest ways to figure out if that platform is right for what you’re looking for.
When students ask me for advice when they’re applying to MFA programs, I always tell them to look at the student artwork that is currently being made at the program, and to see what type of artwork recent alums are creating. You can read all you want about the MFA program on their website, but once you’ve read one school website, they all start to sound the same. Student artwork from school is never the same, and you can often figure out a lot by looking at what students are doing there.
Although Art Prof is not a brick and mortar degree program, I do think the artwork we feature from our users is very representative of what our platform is like. (for example, we don’t accept fan art for our YouTube live art critiques.)
One aspect of the artistic process that I really wanted to substantially represent and talk about on Art Prof was subject matter. Specifically, how an artist is engaging with the content of their artwork. So much of what I see on other online platforms is the same old eye candy you see everywhere: another pretty still life of flowers, a photo realistic graphite drawing of Brad Pitt, an idealized landscape of nice mountains ripped off from Bob Ross, another generic portrait of a happy white person.
I was worried when we started doing the live art critiques on our YouTube channel that the same predictable artwork was all we were going to see in the submissions we got. (This is not to say that we don’t have interest in critiquing more traditional subjects like still life, portraiture, landscape, etc. Those subjects have always been relevant throughout history, and have inspired artists for centuries. )
I have been so pleasantly surprised that many of our submissions have been digging really deep into charged, frequently controversial subject matter that many people avoid for obvious reasons. The topics have been challenging enough that I’ve been really nervous before a few critiques that I would accidentally say something offensive or incorrect during the live stream. Even though this can be nerve wracking, ultimately, this is a good experience, keeps me on my toes!
In Jane Wilson’s critique, (see the video at the top) we discussed their contemporary interpretation of the Annunciation. In Alexis Ward’s critique, (see above video) I talked about visual representations and symbols that reflected specific aspects of race, identity, and culture. Chinaza Agbor’s figurative paintings got me talking about women’s issues, nudity, feminism, and more. (see video below)
I once read a newspaper article about a barber who had been in the business for over 50 years. When asked what his secret was, he said that he never talked to his clients about politics or religion. Well, we have no intention of taking that route here at Art Prof.