circle link image: Kathryn Geismar 


What does the Crit Lab have to Offer? 
Founded by artist Patricia Miranda, the Crit Lab offers rigorous, critical, supportive feedback in small ongoing artist groups. If you are a serious working artist at any level in your practice, just starting out or working and exhibiting for many years, and you are ready for critical feedback that will push the work in a focused intense manner, The Crit Lab is for you. If you have been to art school, whether in a BFA or MFA program or both, and miss the intense feedback and dialogue that an academic environment offers, The Crit Lab is for you. If you would love to go back to school for an art degree, but your home life or the high cost make it prohibitive, if you don’t need the piece of paper yet you crave a more academic critical discourse, The Crit Lab is for you. Art-making is a solitary pursuit, if you are looking for a community of artists seriously engaged in discussion around their work, The Crit Lab is for you.

Does The Crit Lab have a preference for certain kinds of art? 
We love all art forms equally! We are rigorous about quality. Our commitment is to work with artists to direct and hone their own vision- to support you to be the artist you are and not the artist someone else (including the ubiquitous internal critic) thinks you should be. Regardless of whether you make abstract paintings, conceptual sculpture, outwardly political work, or observational representational paintings, (we love all) The Crit Lab pedagogy acknowledges the rhizomatic ways that all art, no matter the genre, speaks to its place in the world.
 
I am generally shy and uncomfortable giving critique, will joining the Crit Lab still be beneficial? 
Creating trust in an open welcoming space for all is crucial to this process. The structured guidelines in the Lab focus conversation on the artwork rather than the artist. We build skills in critical analysis, allowing difficult issues to be raised, examined, and discussed, without becoming personal. This keeps focus on the vitality of the object, its dialogue with the world as an autonomous being, and how, as artist and viewer, we collaborate with it to create meaning. We articulate complex abstract ideas around all aspects of art, including materials, voice, subject matter, context, using empathetic approaches to dialogue. This makes visible the social and political aspects of an artwork, encouraging work that is more self-aware and situated in its time. Artists come away with sophisticated strategies for looking, thinking, and talking about ideas aesthetically, formally, socially and politically. This helps all, including the introvert artist, feel comfortable speaking confidently about their own work, the work of others, and to hear and productively utilize feedback on their own work.

What if I have never attended Art School? 
No Problem! The Crit Lab is an egalitarian space for open dialogue, all are welcome and encouraged. We assume that every interested person can engage in rigorous discussion no matter their background- that’s our politics. The Lab pedagogy is for anyone with enthusiasm, openness, dedicated seriousness about their work, and a willingness to tackle big ideas in a supportive space with an open mind and heart. All groups start with an introduction to the framework and some short background readings.

What if I don’t live in The NYC/RI/Boston Area? Are there still Labs available to me?
The Crit Lab is now virtual and hybrid, until we are safe to gather. We will continue to have a hybrid structure in future, with both virtual and IRL meetings, allowing artists from different locales to join a group together. For IRL Labs, Patricia is available to set up Labs around the country. Labs can be formed in a local artist studio or home, or community spaces such as galleries, art centers, etc., and are designed for your community. Patricia is also available for private consultations one-time or ongoing private studio visits in person or virtually. Check the faculty page for info.

Can’t I set up my own critique group? Why should I pay for a critique group? 
You can! I encourage artists to set up crit groups with peers in your community. I recommend this to all working artist and graduating BFA/MFA students looking for feedback and community. Artists need different kinds of feedback and support at different points in their practice- all of these are good. The Crit Lab is a more formal, academic, structured, and intense program, with rigorous guidelines designed to push dialogue around the work in a focused manner. The Lab employs graduate level critique with empathetic radical listening, and requires serious focus and commitment to produce work within the monthly time frame, that often propels the work in dynamic new ways. We also create intentional communities around our work. If you are at a point where you want a push, and are not in a place to go back to school, the Crit Lab is for you. Feel free to contact participants about their experience, to determine if the Lab is right for you at this moment.

How much does The Crit Lab Cost? Why does it cost that much? 
Session costs vary depending on the type of Lab. The Crit Lab is an artist-run organization and strongly believe that artists are workers and should be fairly compensated for their work. Keeping costs reasonable for artists is also a priority. We offer payment plans to any Lab artist. In 2021 we offered our first Crit Lab Fellowships, including full tuition for one Lab session, and one Fellowship for the AltMFA, and hope to develop more such programs in future.  See our professional practice workshops for info on artist-run culture, empowering artists, understanding economics and developing business practices for artists, and creating alternative economies.

Are there trial sessions available before I commit to joining The Crit Lab to see if I enjoy it? 
While there are rare exceptions, due to the trust developed in the individual groups, it is not possible to visit a Crit Lab in session. Patricia is happy to talk with you about the structure, and to answer any questions you might have in detail. AltMFA small group crits have observers in some critiques.

What If I miss a critique meeting? Do I get my money back? 
There are no refunds for missed meetings. This assures commitment to the process, builds continuity, confidence, and integrity between members, and protects the nature of the relationships built in meetings. While we understand that life happens, we ask that everyone do their best to clear their schedules for all dates. With some exceptions, full refunds minus a $30 administrative fee are available up to 21 days before the session starts. Due to the impact on the curation and small number of artists in each group, cancelations within 7 days deduct $100 administrative fee.