Art is meant to be looked at critically and really enjoying works of art comes out of having a dialogue with pieces that goes beyond just aesthetics. I know this sounds complicated, but don’t worry! It is not as complicated as it sounds.
Below are some helpful tips and questions to ask your self when looking at art that you find frustrating. These are just suggestions and you don’t have to think deeply on them. They are just there to help you open up a dialogue with a piece of art, slow down snap judgements, and start looking at art rather than just seeing it. Just a few moments can lead into some insight and you may end up enjoying a piece you disliked to begin with!
1) Enjoyable art is not always pretty. It is perfectly okay to enjoy art that you consider pretty, but art is a form of human expression and existence. It taps into all of our emotions. Art can be happy, sad, scary, exciting, etc. Works of art give us a rare chance to see the world through someone else's eyes and help us reexamine and rediscover the world around us.
2) Ask yourself, “What am I looking at?” If you don’t know or can’t tell, ask questions like, Do I like this piece of art? What about it do I like? What about it do I not like? Try to find something positive and something negative.
3) Next ask, “How does this painting make me feel and why?” For example, if a work looks “weird” to you, ask yourself, “What about it makes me feel this way?” It could be the colors or the shapes, the subject, or the way the subject has been portrayed. The question “Why?” is one of the most powerful tools we have.
4) It is also helpful to read the labels. Many of the artists painted personal subjects, and reading the labels can help you understand what is going on or help explain why you may or may not like the piece. At the bottom of some of the labels you’ll see “Think About It” suggestions which may help you appreciate the piece.
5) The most important rule of all is: Have fun and Explore!
Ready to put this to the test? Come out and join us March 18, 2016 at 6:30 PM in Cannon Hall for the opening reception of Southern Self-Taught Artists. This new exhibit, on display in Cannon Hall until June 30th 2016 will feature highlights from the Caldwell Collection.
Want to bring your kids to the museum? Great! The concepts above are pretty complicated for kids to understand so we have developed Kids Cards. These interactive printable worksheets are meant to help children understand the art, while at the same time flex their own creative muscles. You will be able to find them at the Art Center’s website after the opening.