The fall semester has ended here at Columbia, which can only mean one thing, it’s time for ‘End of Semester Reviews.’ End of Semester Reviews consist of gathering a selection of work that we, as the students, think represents the body of work we are making and shows the progress that we have made towards finishing that body of work. For many in the program, the week prior to the reviews is stressful, most of that stress resulting from trying to pry our way on the to Epson 9800 we have access to.
Our End of Semester Reviews are different than a normal critique. In our normal critiques here at Columbia, the class gathers in a single room and, one by one, we hang up work and talk about it with the rest of the class. But for End of Semester Reviews, we are not critiquing with our classmates, or our instructors for that matter. While they can be present, they do not talk.
Instead, faculty members that were not part of our seminar class (the class where we normally do critiquing) are invited and assigned to us. Each student has three faculty members assigned to them. For second and third year students, an additional three reviewers from outside of Columbia are also assigned. The outside reviewers can consist of museum curators, gallery owners, instructors from other institutions, or critics.
This time around, there were three critiques happening simultaneously. The students and outside persons who are not involved in critiquing could walk freely between the three critiques and listen in to what was being said.
There were 18 of us critiquing, which meant it was a long day. It was enjoyable to walk between the crits and hear what was being said. It was especially useful because many of the reviewers were not familiar with the work, so usually they would ask questions that were new to the student. This is also highly beneficial because you, as the student and artist, can see what impression your work is making on people that are seeing it for the first time, and it gives you a lot of practice at answering questions and defending your work to someone unfamiliar with it. In the middle of the day, lunch was brought in and we got to enjoy some food with all of the reviewers. This is sometimes the best part of the day, because you get to interact with reviewers that are not part of your review and get to talk about things outside of your own artistic practice.
All in all, it was a good day.