"Making art can be a solitary practice ... and we picked artists who are maybe stepping out in a new direction," says the Contemporary Austin's Andrea Mellard. "So our hope is that we can get a group together and they can support each other in this and give each other some feedback or some encouragement or some constructive criticism."
She's talking about the eight artists who have been taking part in the Contemporary's 2017 Crit Group; they've spent the past seven months meeting to discuss their art and help each other grow in new creative directions. Along with Annette DiMeo Carlozzi and Sterling Allen, Mellard has been directing the program and curating their upcoming group show at grayDUCK Gallery.
As in years past, the 2017 Crit Group is made up of a diverse group of artists -- there are painters, photographers, sound artists, and more -- and that diversity helps to expose the artists to new ways of viewing their works. "The idea of a crit group is this kind of utopian thing," says Allen. "And a lot of people outside of either undergraduate or graduate schol want to carry that dialogue on after school... but they're really hard to maintain."
Since crit groups are often started by college friends, Allen says, "honest feedback is hard to come by." In the Contemporary's group, he says, "they're put in a situatation where they might be able to give more honest feedback."
To mark the end of 2017 group, the curators have worked with all eight artists (Sandy Carson, Jonas Criscoe, Calder Kamin, Dameon Lester, Deborah Mersky, Steve Parker, Amy Scofield, and Sara Venderbeek) to create a group show. "There's no thematic thread necessarily with this show," Allen says. "But I think it's going to be a nice show."
"I feel good about the work [we've] selected with the input of the artists for the exhibition, but I feel even better about the seven months that led up to it [and] the community we put together," says Mellard.