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What is going on in this picture?

Posted on December 30, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Brooke Rogers

Earlier this year I had the incredible opportunity to virtually meet and collaborate with art educators from around the globe, thanks to attending the National Gallery of Art’s Online Summer Institute. During the Institute, I was introduced to new methods for getting students and other learners to think critically about art with evidence and reasoning. Each of the sessions I attended helped to put into context how crucial the ability to look closely at visual materials is. Reasoning to make interpretations and evaluations from observations is something that any learner can benefit from and can help us all to better understand the diverse cultural world we live in.

Interested in practicing visual literacy for yourself?
Look closely at the picture above and follow these three prompts to get started.

  1. What is going on in this artwork? Write down at least five descriptions of what’s going on in this picture. Once you have written five descriptions try to challenge yourself by writing five more descriptions.

  1. After you have generated your list of ten descriptions, think about what you see in the image that made you list those descriptions. Write down your thoughts in the comments.

  1.  Now that you have identified specific aspects of this image, what does this image make you wonder about. Jot your thoughts in the comments below.

Visual Literacy is a creative, learner-centered and research-based teaching method that uses works of art to enable viewers to observe, think, wonder and communicate. This approach builds awareness through art, develops critical thinking skills, expands language ability and improves academic achievement. 

IMAGE:  Walkabout, 1987 by Charles Ginnever (American, 1931-2019). Bronze with patina.  On loan from the Jon and Molly Ott Collection, California.

Want to see this in person? Walkabout is currently on exhibition in the Anderson Sculpture Garden as part of Ginnever: Transforming Perspectives.

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