Since the semester began, my cohort has been meeting together once a week to do informal critiques of each other’s work. We started doing this to get ourselves ready for our first critique week (a.k.a. crit week).
Crit week is essentially a week-long event where each grad student gives an artist talk about what they have been and are working on. A lot of us felt very unprepared for our critiques at the end of last semester in Thinking Through Making, so we decided to make sure that we are ready this time around.
Having a cohort system at Columbia College Chicago has been great. Somehow, almost magically, we all fit very well together. It’s bizarre how a group of strangers can get along so well together. Bizarre and helpful, as we have been able to help each other along so far. Case in point: our critique group.
We meet every Monday in the book bindery and show what we’ve been working on and bounce ideas off of each other. Sometimes it helps just to propose an idea you’ve been mulling over. More often than not, your peers can help tweak ideas and bring the whole thing together.
This last time, I showed them the start of a drawing that I’ve been planning forever. I started by pulling a large sheet of paper and pulp painting on it. The end result is going to be a building of layers and a portrait of a friend of mine from Dekalb. I also talked through the revelation that a boom series that I’m working on is a memoir, of sorts, but on a galactic scale. They were excited. I am excited. We talked through ways to get where I want it to be and generated a lot of great ideas. Having an extra few pairs of eyes can help in tying everything together.
Another great thing about meeting together for crit each week is just being able to see what everyone is doing outside of having to worry about critiques. We aren’t all in the same studio class this semester, so this is our best chance to see each others’ work or to just catch up with one another.
I am so thankful that my cohort is such a supportive group of people. Having these critiques each week has been such a great help to my art practice. I don’t think there is a better way to succeed in art making than to have a group of people willing to wok through issues with you and vice versa. Seeing others’ work can inspire you to figure out problems you didn’t realize existed. To quote Zak Smith, “the best way to succeed as an artist is to surround yourself with other artists for as long as you can.” He said this when I met him at a visit he did to my undergraduate school, and I’m starting to understand what he meant.