Many Thanks, Long Overdue

Today I had the opportunity to go in to Rutgers and be a guest critic for an advanced photo class. The class is focused on alternative processes involving film. The students’ final projects of approximately 3 pieces is due in a couple weeks, so I came in to give some final input before they finalize their work. Some of the students have much more than two weeks of work left to do, but I guess if I really think about it, that is the unfortunate par for the course when it comes to undergraduate academics: weeks of procrastination followed by a final week of stressful all-nighters.
I had a good experience today though, hopefully giving them a little insight, but I will be very curious to see what certain ones of them end up with in a couple weeks. I’m guessing it won’t be recognizable by what they showed/described to me today for the number of corners they had to cut in order to finish on time. It was really good practice for me though to come into the situation blind and be able to talk to the students about their work in a meaningful way. I essentially got about 5-10 minutes with each of them, they showed me what they had, told me what they planned on finishing in a couple weeks, and I gave feedback. Some of them were more or less done, so I tried to draw out of them more of the thought process (because they all love talking about the photo process) that resulted in the work before me. Others of them had a group of images they had taken and only a vague notion of what they wanted to make. I gave some suggestions as far as process, but for the most part just talked through the whys of their decision making, with the logic that if they have a clear vision of what they are trying to make, the decision making process will be easier. Anyway, like I told the professor, hopefully I didn’t screw any of them up or completely contradict something he’s been telling them during class.
This did make me think that while I was thankful for visiting artists and critics, I think I took them for granted. For someone to come in cold and look at work and be able to have meaningful insight is no easy task, and I benefited from many different artists’ willingness to really look at my work and listen to me. So, I owe them all a big thank you, and hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to pay it forward in the near future.

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