Looking at artwork is an excellent way to sharpen our visual literacy and even positively impact mental health in meaningful ways. So why do we only spend a few seconds looking at a single piece of artwork? It could be the pressure to see EVERYTHING at a museum or maybe we feel intimated to spend more time with a work of art. Of course, there is no right way to experience a museum but choosing to slow down by spending minutes and not seconds with a selected art work will help you create meaningful connections.
Casting a wide net can yield a range of observations! Try examining Paige Anderson's Again, Glorified (Atonement triptych) in the Of Souls and Sacraments exhibition. Try to identify 10 things you noticed.
Be sure to try this activity with some of your favorite art pieces!
Narrow Your Focus
Focusing on the specifics of painting can help you have a more in-depth and memorable experience with a work of art.
Try studying only the faces in Nativity by Brian Kershisnik on the lower level (by the bottom of the stairs). Describe their emotions. For example, what does the face of Joseph tell you? Is he distraught Overwhelmed? Or relieved?
Change Your Perspective
This technique can lead to the discovery of small details and large patterns.
Take a look at Dan Steinhilber's untitled suspended installation (near the entrance to the Museum) or Plexus no. 29 by Gabrial Dawe (in the atrium) from five different vantage points, such as viewing it from the balcony. Alter your physical proximity to the artwork as well as your angle and perspective.
Compare and Contrast
Noticing similarities and differences (some of which may be intended by curators) can enrich your insights.
Try to compare and contrast two neighboring artworks such as Julian Alden Weir's Flora (Carrie Mansfield Weir), and John Singer Sargent's Mrs. Edward Goetz (both in From the Vault). Do the two paintings share similar subjects? How do they differ in color and brushstrokes?