Unit One: Looking Into Art

In Unit One, students practice and become familiar with art-related vocabulary. Terms like abstraction, non-objectivity, representation, conceptual, minimalism, etc, provide a beginning point --- but not necessarily to like or love the work. Instead, viewers are encouraged  to stop, reflect and begin gathering contextual information, relating the work to other works we’ve seen and to the issues we’ve raised.

When we ignore or walk quickly past a work of art that doesn’t immediately suggest something we’re familiar with --- or if we’re tempted to say “my 6 year old brother could do that!” --- it’s often because we don’t practice the words or understand the terms we could use to expand and clarify conversations about art.

Art is magical in the sense that we can’t ever know everything about it!  In this first Unit we explore many different kinds of art from around the globe, comparing cultural values and interests and asking questions. Why do we make art? What’s its purpose? Who is an artist? What is beauty? Skill acquisition moves from simple to complex, supported by instructor modeling of critical thinking skills.


Gaining confidence to ask and frame questions, along with becoming familiar with key works of art world-wide, allows students to develop the analytical skills fundamental to close looking. Specific assignments in this Unit give students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.