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Becca Krauss
High School Student

Art School Admissions Portfolio

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner

Artist Statement
“I am currently at a STEM high school with only one available art class, so we do not have access to a wide range of materials or disciplines. In class, we conceptualize and create all of our own pieces without any sort of prompt or direction. I have taken art classes in the past to build and strengthen skill, and I attended a pre-college art program this past summer.

Currently, my concerns are versatility in my portfolio for art school admission in terms of media and style, as well as being able to take my art beyond where I am currently, and to examine my own art making process and my motivations.

My short term goals are to take my art a step up from where I am and push myself further beyond my comfort zone, as well as unlock more of my creativity. My long term goals are to study illustration and go into concept art for video games or movies.”

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Video Transcript

“Looking at your art school admissions portfolio, I think what you’re doing really well is, first of all, you’re putting in a huge amount of effort to really experiment and work with a wide range of different subjects, all different kinds of media. You have black and white pieces, you have colored pieces, and every piece takes a really different approach.

To me, that says that you are very open to experimentation, that you really want to try a wide range of new, different ways of working and that’s really what a lot of art schools are looking for. They don’t expect you to be professional and hyper accomplished because that’s the reason that you want to go to art school, but they do really want to see, I think, the potential and the willingness to try out all these different ways of working.

I really see you pushing yourself in terms of your concepts and in terms of your subject matter and that’s so important in an art school portfolio because I think what happens is a lot of students, they get really fixated on the technique and so they feel that they really have to show off what they can do in terms of their technique, and they don’t really think about why they’re making the artwork or what their motivation is or what the subject matter is about.

And you have a number of pieces that I think really do tackle narrative, that talk about presentation, that deal with different kinds of subjects. Some of them are really charged in a way and I really admire the fact that you’re so gutsy about doing that because I think it is easy to just sit down and mindlessly draw what you see.

And what I see in your portfolio is you’re not doing that. In a lot of your pieces, you really are offering an interpretation. You’re showing us a very particular point of view and I really think that’s what artists are here to do. We’re not here to just be drawing machines, we are here to really say something, and I see that in a lot of your pieces, you’re communicating something very specific.

One aspect of the arts school admissions portfolio that I think is really important to consider is not just the individual pieces in the portfolio but how the portfolio looks overall. For example, what I see in your portfolio is you have a number pieces that are very accomplished for one reason or another, but you also have a couple pieces that I think either look unfinished or seem like they weren’t worked on as much.

What you want to try to do in your portfolio is to get every single piece in your portfolio to the same level of standard because I think when things vary in terms of how finished something is, how accomplished something is, it’s almost like the weaker pieces really kind of bring down the stronger pieces and so that’s where I think, for a lot of students, making more than the number of pieces that is required is a really smart way to go about it.

For example, if you have an admissions portfolio and they’re asking for fifteen artworks, make thirty artworks because chances are if you makes 30 artworks, you going to get a much higher level of quality because you have more to choose from. I would consider working on your color a lot more because color is one of those aspects that I think a lot of people are very intimidated by because there’s just so many things to think about when you work with color.

And the way that I see you working with color in number of your pieces if you have a tendency to isolate the color. For example, the purple is purple, the yellow is yellow, the blue is blue, and I don’t see a lot of crossover in terms of colors. I want the colors to weave into each other much more and I just feel that in a lot of the pieces, the use of the color is very literal. If you look at a patch of grass, we might assume that it’s green but actually there’s little shades of yellow, there’s tints of beige, sometimes even like a deep red in there or something. So you have to kind of teach yourself, in a way, to seek out those less obvious colors whenever you’re observing something.”

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4 responses on "Art School Portfolio Critique: Becca Krauss"

  1. I think you’re well on your way to having a very strong portfolio to show art schools! Sometimes not having a lot of different traditional art materials around gives you the creative impetus to use household materials in surprising ways. Conceptually, it might be useful for you to keep a journal about your art making process. Sometimes writing about my work makes it clear how I’m going about making my work. From your work displayed here, it seems like you are interested in time, aging, and decay. Perhaps think about how the materials you are using also reflect time, and the process of making is temporal.

  2. I love that your are fearlessly exploring a variety of mediums and subject matters. Your conceptual pieces offer a lot to think about, I find myself examining and dissecting the content for a while. I would love to see this explored more in your still life pieces as well. I see a bit of this happening in the charcoal still life, as the figure and flower seem to be creating some sort of narrative. However, this doesn’t create the same intrigue that a few of your other pieces so wonderfully do. I would challenge you to explore the narrative elements of your still life pieces, as I think this could really advance your already impressive body of work!

  3. I love the fact that you’re willing to experiment with many different types of media. This is something that I struggle with a lot; I tend to make work that can be categorized easily, but seeing someone who’s my age who isn’t afraid to take risks is truly inspiring!

  4. I am seriously impressed by the variety of work and the depth of the subject matter in this portfolio – especially considering your statement says you developed most of these without a prompt! When I was in high school a lot of my work was conceptually weak, and I had trouble motivating outside of classroom assignments, so to see these strengths in your work is really encouraging, What’s great about this portfolio is that it’s very clear you are interested in many different subjects and media; experimenting but executing each at a fairly high level. Since it seems to be what you’re most interested in pursuing at art school, though, I would suggest making more work with a strong narrative element. There are pieces here that have that aspect very overtly on display, and they’re quite good, but I’d be interested to see you apply that approach to every piece you create, regardless of subject or media! Your still-life pieces, for example, have very strong compositions – but is there a way you can use those excellent composition skills to convey a narrative like the one in the second image? If you can unify those strengths they should take you very far.

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