Energy, excitement, and wide-ranging talent were in evidence in Prof. Julia Jacquette’s Fine Arts course, Painting VI: Sources of Painted Imagery, when Joan Endres from the Dean’s Office came by to view student critiques. Here’s a closer look.
The class of 23 students was well along on their assignment, Identity and Cultural Influence, when Endres, who oversees the Art and Design Instagram account, visited them in week five, a third of the way through the spring semester. Many of the photos she posted are repeated here.
“The experience of observing the students’ critiques was inspiring,” said Endres, a communications associate for the School of Art and Design.
“They all know each other, having shared classes and have such thoughtful, encouraging comments about each others’ work. There’s a sense of community among these artists who are finding their own voices and have sharp insight about their colleagues’ work,” she said.
In their junior year — and in this third course in the painting sequence — students “still have structured assignments,” says Prof. Jacquette. “But in my section and the other section, taught by Prof. John Allen, they’re encouraged to focus on their own vision.”
Jacquette’s intention is for the assignments and in-class prompts to continue providing structure, but also to allow for latitude as they master and hone their skills.
Jacquette conducts two major group critiques like the one Endres watched, and many more impromptu ones that don’t take a full class.
For this project, the students start with sketches of their initial ideas for their painting. They also respond to a worksheet where Jacquette asks them their ideas for personal identity or what might be their cultural influences. The worksheet is meant to help bring ideas to the fore.
Students are also asked to create digital folders and actual hard copy folders of visual research, photos of what interests them visually, and that might include imagery of the cultures they’re from or that influenced them.
For this first assignment of the semester, Jacquette asked them to take a stroll through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, making sure to include galleries of non-Western art.
“They were encouraged to use the Met as a visual library,” she said.
Jacquette notes that “a lot of those ideas about structure, preparation, and exercises, were developed with my colleagues. Kudos!”
“I try to give them assignments that allow them to bring their own vision to the art,” says Jacquette.
It’s easy to say but not always easy to execute. “As a professor you know they must use of certain skills that they’re still learning, but in advanced courses like this one, skills may be more about form than content.”
Jacquette praised her students, saying “this group really embraced that they are game for the idea that they still need prompts but are also bringing their own ideas to the assignments.
Despite the large class size, she said, “this is probably the best class I’ve ever had as a group…maybe ever.”
In this class, Jacquette conducts two major group critiques and many more impromptu ones that don’t take a full class.
In Jacquette’s words, “Because it’s an advanced class and they are really segued into making self-determined art work, it requires a lot of one-on-one discussion.
“It requires me, as the professor, not only giving feedback and suggestions but really giving them advice about how to strengthen whatever they want to be doing,” says Jacquette.
“Whatever their ideas are, I’m helping them make those ideas clearer to achieve the best work they can with the choices they’re making.”
Jacquette says painting classes in her own junior year, at Skidmore, “were very similar to this in many ways.”
“I’m bringing that experience and pride as a student to my students now,” she said.
“I actually remember the work that I started making as a junior. It was the first time I felt that it was my art work.
“I loved all the classes I took at Skidmore. During my junior year we were encouraged to find our own voice. My excellent professors worked with me to strengthen that voice.
“I hadn’t thought about that until this moment, but that work to this day is still important to me. I don’t show it. I don’t exhibit it, but how pleasurable it was to be making something completely of my own choice.”
But, Jacquette adds, “as I am doing now with my own students, I was nudged, I was given prompts.”
For more information about the Fine Arts AAS and BFA programs, visit: Fine Arts at FIT.