Learning Commons: Digging into Online Critique Sessions with Jasmyn Stokes ’23

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Monday, March 8th, 2021

Some of the most useful parts of the learning experience can also be pretty uncomfortable when you first face them.

Take the practice of critique.

Showing a work in progress to other artists, taking in their constructive suggestions and criticisms, and explaining your choices, is a time-honored part of art school. It helps artists figure out what’s working in a particular piece — and maybe what’s missing the mark. 

This semester, a student-led Virtual Critique Group has been added to PCA&D’s twice-weekly Study Tables program. It aims to be pressure-free, says student leader Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration: For two hours each Wednesday and Saturday, she says, “students can come on in and do work together (online) in a fun and also safe work environment … we present each other’s work and get each student’s view on the pieces.”

That process of creative, collaborative input can help artists make more certain choices as they continue refining a piece. And it also helps to build something just as important:

A trusted community of creatives. 

"Heartbeat," Jasmyn Stokes '23, Illustration, figure with eyes concealed by hair with glowing lily heart

“Heartbeat,” Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration

What do you hope that students will take away from the experience?

JS: I feel as it is always good to get student critiques along with teacher critiques. It helps train our eyes to see the details within a work, along with what works and what doesn’t. What I hope students will take away from this is to always feel safe and courageous during critiques and also while showing their work.

What is your idea of a good critique? 

JS: Finding a solution. When looking at works of art, we should be able to identify what we see unless in a different sense of interpretation. We all have our own opinions. We are able to look at how the work is organized, the message, and also if the piece is working well. When critiquing in big groups or just a few people, getting critique is amazing. It helps us build as artists and also trains our eyes as well.

Art by Jasmyn Stokes '23, Illustration, "Lie" blindfolded person being handed an apple by an unseen person.

“Lie,” Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration

What is the benefit of having a critique just for students?

JS: Getting those peer-review elements and inputs that we can usually tend to look for before getting the professor’s viewpoints. We are learning and improving every day and being able to improve together is always the best we can ask for.

What was your most memorable critique moment? 

JS: (This is a hard one; I love all my professors) My most memorable critique moments are Foundation Year in Prof. (Aaron) Thompson‘s class, this year in Prof. (Robert) Young‘s Class, and Prof. (Evan) Kitson‘s classes. The way their critiques ran pushed me to challenge my thinking and also helped me notice little inconsistencies within my own work.

Online Critique Group meets Wednesdays, 7-9 pm, and Saturdays, noon-2 pm. See This Week at PCA&D for the link.

Top image: “Characters – Christian,” Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration

"Arctic Wolf - Christian," Jasmyn Stokes '23, Illustration

“Arctic Wolf – Christian,” Jasmyn Stokes ’23, Illustration