Artists and Teachers

By Courtney Coelho / January/February 2015
December 22nd, 2014

On a snowy December evening, lights were visible through the second-floor windows of List Art Center as the visual arts department’s Critique Intensive held its last session.
Mixed with the students in the large studio space were four working artists—Elise Ansel ’84, Chitra Ganesh ’96, Keith Mayerson ’88, and Rob Reynolds ’90—who’d spent sixteen weeks with the class, teaching, critiquing, and discussing art.

Mike Cohea
Rose Congdon '15, left, and her classmates critique work created for the visual art department's Critique Intensive, a class taught by four alumni artists last semester. 
The class was the brainchild of Chair of Visual Art Wendy Edwards, who hopes it will serve as a model for future classes. “Alumni bring a generosity to their approach to the Brown students,” Edwards said. “They love coming back here, they love giving, and they’re very professional and committed to helping our students.”

“I think it’s great for [the students] to meet practicing artists and to be in dialogue with others who may have followed their trajectory,” Ganesh says.

“It’s wonderful to have artists here who are now out in the world building their careers,” says Rosa Congdon ’15, “but who have come from exactly Providence, who understand what it is to be making art within the Brown curriculum. It’s a very specific experience as opposed to going to art school.” Congdon also noted that the class’s structure has allowed her to hone her critiquing skills, both in giving and receiving advice.

“To be given this much intense critique all the time really teaches you when to listen and how to find your voice through that,” she says. “If you only have one professor, you’re going to end up making work very in line with their views. To have a thousand different voices all the time allowed me to figure out what rings true for me and what I am looking for in my work.”

When students expressed a concern about making a living as an artist, Reynolds told them not to be discouraged. “Take heart,” he said. “There’s a big, thriving art market out there, and if you want in, you can do that.”


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January/February 2015