Defending Their Art

One of the most eclectic, interesting, and occasionally bizarre displays of student art takes place each fall at Scripps as students in a senior art seminar offer their projects for review. Art professors move from cubicle to cubicle in five-minute sessions to critique the students’ work and give advice.

“It’s kind of like speed dating,” says Susan Rankaitis, professor of studio art. “Members of the faculty can see what the senior art majors have started for their fall senior art projects.”

This fall, projects ranged from photography about goddesses (Michelle Plotkin) to compressed charcoal drawings (Krista Sharpe) to video comedy (Jenny Hou, CMC) to a merging of digital art, photography, and graphic design (Mika Bar-Chaim).

Deeper critiques come later in the semester. Prior to Thanksgiving, the art department holds senior walk-throughs, which are assessments of seniors by the art faculty.

“We give each student about 15 minutes,” says Rankaitis. “They describe what they are doing in terms of art history, theory, materials, concepts, and then answer questions from the faculty, essentially defending their art.”

The faculty then deliberates, focusing on each student’s work. “We believe that the senior project is more or less the culmination of at least three years of art classes at Scripps, the Claremonts, and study abroad,” says Rankaitis.

Those students who are judged to have done good work are advanced to the spring seminar and the opportunity to be in the senior art show at the end of the semester.

While the department’s goal is to advance every student, anywhere from 60 to 100% of the students are advanced in a given year, according to Rankaitis. Those who don’t produce senior-level work are encouraged to take an internship or focus on another area in the spring.

“Walk-throughs are hard,” she says. And often rewarding.