An Alternate Critical Community
for Working Artists
founded in 2013 by artist, educator and curator Patricia Miranda
The Crit Lab is a community of working artists. Crit Lab participants are not students. We are artist driven, not mentor-driven. We engage as colleagues and fellow artists in a community of peers.
The Crit Lab began in-person, with 5 artists in Patricia Miranda's studio in 2013, (several still in the Lab!) and grew to four Labs in Port Chester, two in Boston, and one in Rhode Island. When the pandemic hit, we moved with the world to long virtual meetings, testing if it was possible to delve as powerfully into the work in the digital space. Over time we came to realize the power of the digital space- not as a replacement for the real, but as its own form. As the Labs grew, artists from around the country engaged in meaningful discussion together in the digital space.
As we've expanded, we developed a Fellowship program, and the strength of the pedagogy has grown with us. Now up to 9 Labs per session, the structure has necessarily grown tighter and more formal for time and schedules, while our ethical framework holds space for the depth of discussion the Lab is known for.
We are inspired by the digital space, with no geographic limits, the new ways we share from our private spaces, and the unique intimacy of meeting without physical bodies. Online everyone has a front row seat, we share equal space in the room, we make room for one another. As we move ahead we consider new possibilities, and alongside environmental concerns of travel, we craft new ways of working, making, and reflecting.
The Crit Lab engages in non-hierarchical discussion around your artistic practice, first and foremost honoring the autonomy of the artist and the artwork. One of the most powerful and unique aspects of The Crit Lab is the careful curation of the groups. Join us in a space of curiosity, empathy, radical listening and rigorous exchange.
Critique is an Encounter
The Lab is an alternate critical community for working artists outside academia to come together for sustained contact, with empathetic listening, radical optimism and rigorous dialogue, in an act of hope over destruction.
The Crit Lab is about the art.
First and foremost we honor the autonomy of the artist and the artwork. We look, see, feel, describe, analyze, and communicate our experience with the work. We do not make judgments about good or bad, working or not working, success or failure. Most of all - we learn from the work - what we care about and how this is best expressed in an artwork. We protect the mysterious aspect of artmaking and meaning-making.
Discussions are led by the artists, with the guidance of the pedagogy and structure. Patricia Miranda holds the space, keeps the dialogue in focus, brings in context, artists or texts to research, and keeps meetings on schedule. These are trusted long-form discussions between artists in each cohort.
Rigorous critique in small ongoing groups
The Crit Lab offers 5-month graduate-level critique seminars for artists. We employ a rigorous structure and pedagogy, with critical, supportive, feedback in small artist groups. The intensity of an ongoing conversation acts as incubator, and helps develop structures for a sustainable studio practice.
What makes The Crit Lab so special?
A: The Artists
The most powerful component is the Lab artists. Crit Lab participants are NOT students. This is an artist community of PEERS. At any level artists can come to this table - they bring their work and their whole selves. Miranda guides the structure of the meetings, and brings much expertise and ideas to the table- but the table belongs to ALL.
B: Curated Groups
Intentional community makes for profound change.
One of the most important + unique aspects of the Crit Lab is curation of the groups. Miranda combs through each application, visits every artist's website, and interviews applicants. Groups are formed in which work speaks to work in complex and meaningful ways.
We create trust in a dynamic community, and feed and support both studio practice and artist. When the curated groups come together it is transformational.
Curation of the groups is not by medium, it is by ideas. These dream teams gather together around work that supports and challenges, highlights and invigorates, to exchange and learn from one another and the work.
The focus is on the WORK and not the artist.
C: An Ethical Aesthetic
The Crit Lab Pedagogy was designed by Patricia Miranda after years of working with artists in grad and undergrad programs, as well as professionally. Much of the structure was designed in response to the personal and opinionated nature of most critique, often clouded by the unremarked power dynamics of gender, class, race, etc.
In the Lab we make visible the social context under which all art is created, and locate our work inside its own constellations of ideas. The Lab structure takes into account our deep emotions and reactions, and creates space for our response be communicated in reflective, objective readings, without conclusion.
We develop and learn critical observation and ethical language in a rigorous open space of discussion. Artists build tools to effectively articulate and engage in a dialogue around their work and that of fellow artists. We meet the work where it is and ask where it wants to go. And we help it get there.
We ask, we do not answer. Conclusions are the domain of the artist, not the group.
The Crit Lab is about the studio
The Crit Lab offers the intense dialogue and feedback of an MFA program, in a supportive and nonjudgemental environment, without the agenda, degree, or high tuition. If you are actively working and want a higher level of dialogue around your work, miss the discourse of an academic program, and don’t want or require the piece of paper, The Crit Lab offers intentional space for work to flourish.
The Crit Lab is a supportive forum for exploration and discussion of new, vulnerable, in progress, and experimental works and ideas, as well as finished bodies of work. The connection and community transcend the Lab. The ongoing, intensive, inclusive, space of the meetings encourages work to flourish and grow in critical depth and perception, while building a strong community of committed artists.
For artists at every place in their practice
The Lab invites artists who are serous about wanting to grow and push their work within a small intentional community. Success is defined by each artist's particular practice; "career" is not important. What matters is that artists engage fully and consistently with their practice and with the group. Lab artists support one another to focus and push the work. Artists in the Lab include a large percentage of MFA grads, artists with newly developing to long established studio practice.
We welcome you to join us.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with Patricia about our programs.
The Crit Lab was founded by artist, curator and educator Patricia Miranda. Miranda designed a structured pedagogy to focus and deepen discussion beyond common subjective reactions, and to help support ethical structures in which artists can thrive. Additional faculty are available for one-on-one sessions and at the AltMFA.
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