Honors Photography Critique Day Returns

Syrus Gupta

Honors Photography students engaged in a peer-to-peer critique day on Thursday, Feb. 16, as part of an annual Visual Arts exhibition in the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center. This is the first time the critique took place in person in over three years.

The critique day involves students presenting their work and receiving feedback from peers during a full-day gallery walk of the Upper School Visual Arts exhibition. The exhibition is being held in conjunction with students in the Advanced Placement 2D Art class.

According to Upper School Visual Arts teacher, Frank Lopez, the critique had typically been adjudicated by an outside voice. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Lopez says he wanted his students to have more voice and involvement during the day.

“The way this runs is that student artists will make a statement about their [own] work,” Lopez said. “Then it’s up to the other students; they may put their hand up and speak their minds. It may be a compliment; it may be a suggestion of where we may go with the artwork in the future.”

The critique day began at nine in the morning and ran throughout the rest of the day. Each student presented two of their pieces, receiving as much time as they needed to discuss and reflect upon them. Lopez said it felt “equitable without being forced.”

“I think the environment was really interesting,” junior Pearce Barnes said. “There was something positive and negative to be said for everybody’s [pieces], so it was really eye-opening to learn what that’s about and try to improve the art form.”

At the beginning of the school year, Honors Photography students developed artist statements based on what they sought to achieve through their work in the year. These focused primarily on social issues such as gender, religion and racial identity.

“When I’m taking my photos, I’m doing that with my artist statement in mind,” Barnes said. “For me, it’s environmental things and going backward in time, kind of bringing awareness to that. So that’s reflected in my art.”

According to Lopez, the objective of the critique day is to sharpen students’ work and develop final portfolios for the end of the year. Furthermore, he hopes to prepare students for upcoming contests, such as the ISAS Fine Arts Festival in April.

“Every time you do something you’re practicing,” Lopez said. “[Practice is] showing the work, getting it prepped and ready, submitting that and putting that up and speaking about your work.”

Lopez says that students are expected to end the year with an effective portfolio.

“It’s all so important to allow our students to hammer down with their artist statement and make sure that they’re clean with it,” Lopez added.