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Responding to Visual Art

Through demonstrations and analyses of artworks by educators, artists, and critics, Responding to Visual Art provides students with the tools they need to describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate works of art.

For the Teacher: Introduction to Responding to Visual Art

Former KET humanities instructor Elizabeth Jewell introduces the Responding to Visual Art DVD and briefly discusses how the videos can help students understand and evaluate their experience of viewing a work of art. The segments cover the elements of art and principles of design and feature informative interviews with a museum curator, an art critic, and several artists.

Suggested Uses:
Preview to get a basic idea about the DVD contents.
Use to learn how you might use the other segments, alone or in combination, to supplement lessons.
Use as an overview to begin units that cover the elements of art, principles of design, or art appreciation in general.

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Elements of Art

While visiting the University of Kentucky Art Museum, KET humanities instructor Elizabeth Jewell uses several pieces of art from the museum’s collection to discuss the elements of art, including color, line, value, space, shape, form, and texture. She shows how these elements work together in various combinations to influence our experience of a work of art and compares several works to show the different ways in which artists employ the elements of art.

Suggested Uses:
Show as an introduction to or a review of the elements of art.
Use as a model of an instructional museum tour.
Show to engage students’ skills of analysis, using the elements of art to look at other artworks besides those used as examples.
Use in conjunction with student analysis of artworks found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum.
Show to begin a discussion of the art appreciation process.

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Principles of Design

While visiting the University of Kentucky Art Museum, former KET humanities instructor Elizabeth Jewell uses several pieces of art from the museum’s collection to discuss the principles of design, including balance, proportion, emphasis, contrast, pattern, repetition, movement, rhythm, and unity. She shows how artists manipulate each of these principles to influence the viewer’s experience of a work of art and compares several works to show how different artists approach these principles.

Suggested Uses:
Show as an introduction to or review of the principles of design.
Use as a model of an instructional museum tour.
Show to engage students’ skills of analysis, using the principles of design to look at other artworks besides those used as examples.
Show to begin a discussion of the art appreciation process.
Use in conjunction with student analysis of the pieces found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum.
Show in connection with lessons about the creative process, especially those that concern design and composition.

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How To Respond to a Work of Art

Martin Rollins, associate curator of school programs for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, uses two works—Pieter Claesz’s oil painting Breakfast Still Life (1653) and Henry Moore’s sculpture Reclining Figure: Angles (1979)—to demonstrate the four-step process for responding to either a two- or three-dimensional work of art. Step 1 requires a description of the work while taking an inventory of facts about its appearance. Step 2 involves an analysis of this inventory of facts, breaking down the work into its basic elements and getting into the mode of the artist’s intent. In Step 3, the viewer interprets the work based on his/her developing understanding or an estimation of the artist’s intent. The final step involves a full evaluation of the work based on Steps 1 through 3.

Suggested Uses:
Use in conjunction with the “Responding to Art” section in the Arts Toolkit binder.
Use as a model of an instructional museum tour.
Use as a model for students so they can analyze other works (e.g., those found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum) in a similar fashion.

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The Artist’s Point of View (Part 1)

In these four excerpts from the KET series Looking at Painting, Kentucky artists Sheldon Tapley, Ann Tower, and Robert Tharsing, along with Speed Museum curator Julien Robson, discuss three works of art in terms of each artist’s methods and intentions. First, Tapley visits the Speed in Louisville to analyze Cézanne’s Two Apples on a Table, comparing it to two other Cézanne paintings at the National Gallery: Still Life with Apples and Peaches and House in Provence. Tower discusses what she finds fascinating about Priscilla Johnson, a portrait by Alice Neel also found at the Speed Art Museum. Finally, Robson and Tharsing discuss Jackson Pollack’s Number 1 (Lavender Mist) from the National Gallery of Art. Looking at Painting is a three-part KET series that takes viewers inside the studios of 14 Kentucky artists.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about an artist’s methods and intentions.
Use as a model of how to look at and respond to a work of art.
Use as a model of an instructional museum tour.
Use in conjunction with student analysis of artworks found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum.

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The Artist’s Point of View (Part 2)

Curator Brian Clinkingbeard and ceramic artists Sarah Frederick and Wayne Ferguson discuss pieces at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft that were selected for the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum. Clinkingbeard talks about the nature of folk art while discussing Noah’s Ark, a work of wooden sculpture by Minnie and Garland Adkins. He talks about how the difference between works of craft, art, and folk art rests in the notion of why the work was created. Frederick reveals how a technique she learned for making pottery in an African style transformed her work and tells how she strives for beauty in pieces such as Gold Calabash Bowl. Ferguson tells how and why he makes pieces such as Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about artists’ methods and intentions.
Use as a model of how to look at and respond to a work of art.
Use in conjunction with the “Art of Craft: Rude Osolnik” segment to initiate a discussion about the definitions of art, craft, and folk art.
Show to spark a “What is art?” debate.
Use in conjunction with student analysis of artworks found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum.

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The Art of Craft: Rude Osolnik

Master woodturner and college instructor Rude Osolnik of Berea is internationally recognized for his candleholders and bowls. In this profile, he describes the origin and development of his candleholder design and demonstrates the techniques he uses to create each piece. He maintains that what makes a good craftsman is essentially the same thing that makes a good artist: control of the materials using a good technique to produce a well designed and crafted work of art.

Suggested Uses:
Use to spark a discussion about artists’ methods and intentions.
Pair with the “Artist’s Point of View (Part 2)” segment to initiate a discussion about the definitions of art, craft, and folk art. Have students discuss the importance of craftsmanship.
Show with a profile of another artist working in wood (e.g., LaVon Williams from Through Artists’ Eyes) to discuss the qualities of both artists and their attitudes toward the medium.
Use in conjunction with student analysis of the Rude Osolnik works found in the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum.

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The Art Critic: How To Write About Art

Diane Heilenman, art critic for the Louisville Courier-Journal, discusses the purpose of writing about an exhibit: to convey a sense of importance. She outlines her methods of looking at and writing about art exhibits and individual works of art while visiting an exhibit at the Louisville Visual Art Association. She stresses the importance of not only describing an exhibit or a specific work, but also finding something within it that is compelling enough to write about, even if you have to leave out the most beautiful piece on display.

Suggested Uses:
Use as preparation for a field trip to an art exhibit.
Show to help generate ideas for writing a review of an artwork or exhibit.
Show to spark a “What is art?” debate.

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The Student/Teacher Relationship

In this short segment, fabric artist and University of Kentucky art instructor Arturo Sandoval demonstrates his approach to teaching and advising art students. Teachers will find this segment useful and inspirational because it outlines an interactive method developed by professional arts educators to lead students in a collaborative, experiential development of techniques and knowledge in the arts. The KET program Arturo Alonzo Sandoval: The Fabric of Art documents the design, creation, and installation of Sandoval’s Millennium Project at UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts.

Suggested Uses:
View for ideas about how to develop interactive activities for your students, possibly through collaboration on a single large project.
View for ideas on how to respond to student artwork.
Show to students to help them respond appropriately and helpfully to the artwork of fellow students.

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