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A Mashup Of Art And Criticism

The distance between creator and critic is done away with in a work of performance art that  demystifies  the art review process.

The Illinois State University Galleries recently played host to Lori Waxman's 60wrd/min art critic,  a work that merges the worlds of art and art criticism.  Waxman, who works as a critic for The Chicago Tribune, has created a performance art piece that involves critiquing emerging artists as her own work of performance art.  The origin of the work dates back about a decade, when Waxman was an up-and-coming art critic with loads of artist friends.

'And they were quite mystified by the art critic process, in the sense that how do you get a review, who are the reviewers, how do you get a show if you've never had a review?' said Waxman.  'Basically, what's the deal in this very opaque process that's very central to the art world and has been for the longest time.'

Waxman said she put that together with a job she had working for an art book publisher.  She was responsible for writing all of the catalog sales copy.  Most of the books didn't exist when she had to write the copy.  All she had to go on was basic information about what the publisher was planning to do.

'I didn't have a lot of time to do it, but the copy had to be terrific.' said Waxman. 'So I developed this skill at writing inventive, correct, quick, efficient prose about art.  And so I put this all together and I take this skill of writing, I think, quality prose in quantity, and I mix it up with this situation where all these young artists are mystified by the criticism process, and I'll just go and sit in public and if anyone wants a review they can come and ask me for it.  And I will do it on-the-spot.'

Waxman said that in her regular criticism job she doesn't do anything like this because the human element gets in the way of proper criticism.  She said she does 60wrd/min art critic to remind herself of that human element.

'What I take back to my regular critic job is a reminder of this person on the other side of the artwork.' Waxman said. 'Not that it should inflect the criticism too much or change it, because really criticism is about the artwork and not the artist.  But nevertheless, it's good to remember that there are human beings involved.'

WGLT partnered with the University Galleries to publish Waxman's reviews of local artists.  You can read them here.

Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.