M. Talking About Student Art/Museum Practices

Asking student to reflect on and talk about their art making experiences, as well as their finished  art work, is an integral part of the artmaking process. It is important for art educators to provide concrete approaches and experiences that allow students of all levels to articulate an understanding about their art and the art of others. BRAINY is an opportunity for you to engage students in exploring and talking about art in a museum setting.

BRAINY was conceived to provide arts opportunities for students from Title 1 schools in northern Colorado. Since its inception in fall 2009, over 1000 third, fourth, and fifth grade students from Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor elementary schools have enjoyed this collaborative, educational program.

BRAINY-An Overview (PowerPoint)

BRAINY is meant to:

  1. Introduce students to the arts
  2. Demonstrate the role the arts play in our community and culture
  3. Demonstrate to students that the arts can be part of leisure and/or academic pursuits (with connections to other academic subjects)
  4. Bring students to a university campus.

Click on the link below to find out more about this program and the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University.

BRAINY Resources

BRAINY 2016-2017 Materials, Fall and Spring

brainy-2016-17-lesson-plan (word)

brainy-2016-17-presentation (PowerPoint)


brainy-exhibition-guide-art-work-id (word)

BRAINY 2015-2016 Materials, Fall

Scrimmage Catalog (pdf)     Scrimmage Images (PowerPoint)

Scrimmage PowerPoint Museum Intro (PowerPoint)

Scrimmage PowerPoint Script (word)     Scrimmage PowerPoint Script (pdf)

Museum Lesson Plan Form (word)

Consider some of these resource from Harvard’s Project Zero

Image result for harvard project zero

Talking About Art-Responding to Student Art: Responding to Student Art

Effective critiques are planned. Consider the following PowerPoint when planning and organizing a critique: Group Critique Guidelines (PowerPoint)

Generic Game: Focuses on learner—rather than what subject/information is to be learner

Generic Game (PowerPoint)     Generic Game (Word)

  • Inquiry: Posing open-ended questions—no right or wrong answers;
  • Access: Accommodating the range of differences that exist among learners; and
  • Reflection: Structure through which students think about their own learning/thinking.


  • Do you like this work of art? Why or why not?
  • Look carefully at the work of art in front of you. What colors do you see? Take turns listing the specific colors that you see (for example: “I see blue.” “I see orange.”).
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • What do you see in the work of art in front of you? Take turns listing the objects that you see (for example: “I see an apple.” “I see a triangle.”).
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • What is going on in this work of art? Take turns mentioning what you see happening, no matter how small.
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Does anything you have noticed in this work of art so far (for example: colors, objects, or events) remind you of something in your own life? Take turns answering.
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Is this work of art true to life? How real has the artist made things work?
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • What ideas and/or emotions do you think this work of art expresses?
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Do you have a sense of how the artist might have felt when he or she made this work of art? Does it make you feel one way or another?
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Take a look at the other works of art displayed around this one. Do they look alike? What is similar about the way they look? What is different?
  • What would you have called this work of art if you had made it yourself? Does the title of the work, (Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest), make sense to you?
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Think back on your previous observations. What have you discovered from looking at this work of art? Have you learned anything about yourself or others?
  • Finished? Move on to the next question.
  • Do you like this work of art? Why or why not?

Entry Points as Windows of a House

Entry Points (PowerPoint)      Entry Points (Word)

Stage 1

  • Viewers respond to such aesthetic properties of the work as color, texture, and line; the subject of the art work may trigger personal associations.

Stage 2

  • Viewers consider what is going on in the art work and how beautiful or realistic the artist’s portrayal may be.

 Stage 3

  • Viewers use a knowledge of historic stylistic “schools” of art, etc., to contextualize the art of art; they consider the purpose of art to be the expression and stimulation of emotion.

Stage 4

  •  Viewers apply their personal perspectives to the interpretation of the symbolism of the work.

Stage 5

  • Viewers playfully encounter the work of art and skillfully interrelate with it as a means for deliberate self reinterpretation (i.e. the viewer not only reconstructs the meaning of the work, but also judges through his or her own experience and personal values the worth of that meaning.
  • Narrative Entry Point: Tell its story. What is this about?  Write the story of what you see.
  • If this work of art tells a story, who or what is the main character?
  • When and where did the story of this work take place?
  • What is the beginning, middle, and end of the story depicted in this work of art?
  • If you were to give this work of art a title, what would it be?
  • Logical / Quantitative Entry Point: Figure it out.  How do the parts of what you see fit together?  Make a list of questions about what you see?
  • Do you think there is any part of this work of art that ties the whole thing together?
  • In making this work of art, what do you think the artist did first?
  • Why do you think this work of art is the size that it is?
  • How can you determine the age of this work?
  • Foundational Entry Point: Reflect on it. Why does it matter? What is it for? Share your theory about why this object is or is not important. 
  • Is this art? Why or why not?
  • Why do we look at art?
  • Is it still art if it is not beautiful or makes you feel uneasy?
  • How might this work of art change the lives of people who see it?
  • Experiential Entry Point: Do it. Make it. How can I experience it? Make a picture, dance, or sing a song about what you see.
  • Can you write a poem about what you see?
  • Can you sing a song about what you see?
  • Can you do a dance in response to this work of art?
  • Can you make a collage using elements from this work of art?
  • Aesthetic Entry Point: Look at it carefully. What do I see and feel? Describe this object in detail—what it looks like and how it might feel.
  • How would you describe the colors that you see?
  • What shapes do you see in this work of art?
  • Does what you see seem balanced or off-balance? Why?
  • What emotions appear to be expressed in this work of art?

Aesthetic Scanning

Aesthetic Scanning and Questioning (PowerPoint)     Aesthetic Scanning (Word)     Questioning Strategies for Aesthetic Scanning (Word)

Some Relevant Questions About Artistic Intent
  • Ask Not “Is It Art?” Ask “Did An Artist Make It?”
  •  Can we know an artist’s intent ever? Always?
  •  Do some artists work intuitively. drawing on the subconscious, and even block specific intent?
  • Is an artist’s intent, when available, always relevant to the meaning of an artwork?
  • Can an artist express one thing, but then express more than that, or something different from that?
  • Should an artist’s stated intent be the final arbiter when determining the accuracy of an interpretation?

Aesthetic Appreciation (Serra)

Principles for Interpreting Art 

Principles for Interpreting Art (PowerPoint)     Principles for Interpreting Art-Print (Word)

1. Artworks have “aboutness” and demand interpretation.

2. Responsible interpretations present the artwork in its best rather than in its weakest light.

3. Interpretations are arguments.

4. Interpretations are persuasive.

5. Some interpretations are better than others.

6. No single interpretation is exhaustive of the meaning of an artwork and there can be different, competing, and contradictory interpretations of the same artwork.

7. Interpretations imply a world view.

8. Good interpretations of art tell more about the artwork than they tell about the interpreter.

9. Interpretations are not so much absolutely right, but more or less reasonable, convincing, enlightening, and informative.

10. Good interpretations have coherence, correspondence, and inclusiveness.

11. Feelings are guides to interpretations.

12. An interpretation of an artwork need not match the artist’s intent for the artwork.

13. The objects of interpretations are artworks, not artists.

14. All art is about the world in which it emerged.

15. All art is in part about other art.

16. Interpretation is ultimately a command endeavor and the community is eventually self-corrective.

17. Good interpretations invite us to see for ourselves and to continue on our own.

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