Kick Your Work Up a Notch with Writing Bootcamp

Be the Critic! Writing Boot Camp for Aspiring Authors with Bean Gilsdorf
SDA in•ter•face Post-conference 3-day Workshop
June 10-12, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
(PLEASE NOTE: This workshop has been cancelled due to under-enrollment.)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) recently hosted 2013 deFINE ART conference that included a panel discussion focused on professional practices. Of the 5 most important things an artist could do to support his or her studio activity, writing was #3 on the list!

Even though many artists bemoan the act of writing, in my experience the SCAD panel is correct: writing is one of the most meaningful ways to stimulate your own artistic practice – as well as engage with the art community.

Sometimes the word critic scares people off, but in fact, it means “a person who evaluates and analyzes” – and that’s something we could use more of in the textiles arts community. Beyond personal enrichment, writing about textile exhibitions contributes to the scholarship of our field in a meaningful way.

This was part of the inspiration behind my idea to start offering Writing Bootcamp for Aspiring Authors workshops. In this introductory class, participants can start with no prior writing experience and emerge as published authors. Over these 3 days, we will examine what makes a good exhibition review, look at the work in the conference shows, then write, edit – and publish.

Using step-by-step exercises, both in the classroom and the galleries, I’ll teach participants how to become art critics, allowing them to share their ideas and opinions about textiles with the larger art world. If there’s a lack of critical attention to textiles, there’s only one way to fix it—by stepping up and writing about the work from an informed perspective.

You’ll emerge with a much deeper experience of the many benefits of writing.

You probably already know that writing about your own work can clarify your aesthetic and conceptual aims; an activity such as journaling about your process can sharpen your critical thinking skills and assist with creative problem solving in the studio. Additionally, writing documents such as artist statements and biographies helps viewers appreciate your work even when they can only view it in reproduction.

Yet it may come as a surprise to know that writing about the work of other makers can improve and enhance your practice as well.

One of the main perks of writing analytically is that it leads to a deeper understanding of art in general. Instead of rushing through an exhibition, the act of writing slows you down and trains you to see—and think—in greater detail. Of course, the practice of writing about art also makes you more adept at composing your own artist statements, gallery communiqués, or residency or grant applications.

Just as regular exercise makes it easier to run a mile, writing about art sharpens your mind and trains you to communicate more effectively. The practice of writing and publishing exhibition reviews can also broaden your network. You’ll definitely connect with other artists through your writing plus you’ll interact with art historians, gallerists, curators and other critics.

So consider making this investment in yourself and your work. Dig deep, get ready to take it to the next level – and join me for a new kind of workout right after in•ter•face!

View full workshop description and register at
You must be an SDA member to log in and register for the conference to add this workshop. If you’d like to take the “workshop only” option, you can subtract the conference after.
(Workshop availability subject to change after April 15, 2013.)

Bean Gilsdorf is an artist and writer. Her critical writing has appeared online and in print publications such as Art Practical, Daily Serving, Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture, and Fiberarts Magazine.

She received a B.A. in literature from Simon’s Rock College, a M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Colorado, and an M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts. Her work has been included nationally in exhibitions at Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, American Textile History Museum and Holter Museum of Art, as well as exhibition spaces in Poland, England, Italy, China, and South Africa. She has received grant support from Surface Design Association, Puffin Foundation, and NW Film Center of the Portland Art Museum. Gilsdorf was a 2011-2012 Graduate Fellow at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California and recently completed a residency at Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.

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