Creativity and Critiques

Students Attend UW Oshkosh’s Annual High School Art Day


On April 29, eight art students traveled with Mr. Herr to UW Oshkosh for the university’s annual High School Art Day. Students were selected to attend the event based on their artistic skillset as well as motivations to pursue a career in the arts.
“We thought about students that were thinking about art as a career or pathway for college,” Mr. Herr said. “We selected the most talented students or those we thought would be more serious about going to college for art.”
At the event, students were able to participate in 90-minute art workshops led by graduate students, receive critiques on some of their pieces from UWO professors and even have the opportunity to get their pieces displayed from May 2-7 at the Steinhilber gallery on the third floor of Reed Union on the UW Oshkosh campus.
Guillermo Baneulos, Gracelynn Berner and Ava Shultz were all granted the opportunity to have their pieces displayed at the gallery. In addition to this, Ava also won the Artcore award at the gallery reception.
“I decided to bring a geometric piece of a leopard/skull called Life through Death,” Shultz said. “It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever made. It’s meant to show how death isn’t all bad, and that it can fuel new life.”
At the event, students were able to select which workshop they would like to take, with options ranging from wire art to landscape impressionism. One of the workshops was a monster printmaking course where students were able to design their own monster, print it using inks and trade their prints with other students at the workshop.
“It was a lot of fun to learn how to carve away the negative space instead of the positive,” Shultz said. “The printing process was really relaxing.”
In addition to the actual material taught during the workshop, participating students were also able to get some time to interact with the graduate students teaching the class.
“It was cool to hear the students who actually go there talk about what classes are like and what opportunities you get at the school, “ Nora Otte, another art day attendee, said.
After the workshops, students went back to their critique rooms for the next portion of the event. During this time, the jurors (consisting of current art staff, retired professors, and senior art students) provided critiques for everyone’s work, including what each artist did well in their piece and what they could do to improve upon it. This shows prospective art students how to properly provide their peers with constructive criticism on their work, something that is a frequent occurrence in art-focused college programs.
To provide some context, art students at Fondy have to write up critiques that explain their art process. In these critiques, students apply a plethora of elements, principles, and techniques to their work to establish their understanding of their art. Essentially, the critique process at the UWO event shows how this process functions at a college level. Instead of writing a written critique, students have seminar sessions in which they discuss their work and get constructive feedback from their peers.
“The critiques were very helpful,” Shultz said. “Personally I got a lot of good feedback on how to improve my work, and I will definitely be going back next year!”
This was the first time students from Fondy were able to attend the event. However, it was not the first time Mr. Herr had been.
“It was my first time going as a staff member, but I’ve helped organize the event before,” Mr. Herr said. “I went to school at UW Oshkosh, so it was kind of affirming to be back as a teacher and then have my students experience the campus with me.”
Overall, the students really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the event. The combination of the unique workshops, constructive critiques, and the opportunity to talk to art graduates made this event impactful for many.
“It was really cool to hear the feedback of the graduate students and the judges,” Otte said. “It was cool to talk about what made something look interesting in terms of elements and principles instead of someone just saying it looked good.”
“I thought it was a great experience,” Mr. Herr said. “Even if students don’t decide to go to Oshkosh, it’s a good taste of what college level art would be like at any campus.”