Criteria to Consider

An artist must have some criteria to strive toward — some measure of whether or not an artwork or exhibition is successful. A short video posted on presents some criteria worth considering.

The artform being discussed happens to be bonsai, but the criteria that I speak of could apply to whatever art form you practice… or teach.

In the video, Eric Schrader from interviewed Ryan Neil about a bonsai exhibition in Portland Oregon. The highlights, from the perspective of this post, include at 2 minutes when Ryan says,

I’m not striving to create controversy.

And around 2:45 when he explains further:

The exhibition will be fairly controversial. Some people will love it, some people will hate it but you will have to at least form an opinion and not be ambivalent, or indifferent to it… so that, just generating that response, is successful.

This describes a practical standard that is worth considering. An artwork (of whatever kind) could be considered successful because it makes the viewer form an opinion, or to at least stop and consider.

I challenge the art educators out there to think about the criteria you set for your students, either explicitly or simply through your actions. What can you do to push your students to consider different criteria, or create criteria of their own?



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