The Visual Arts Education and Outreach Program at the University of Chicago Graham School is based on the conviction that an arts education helps learners understand their own culture, other cultures, and by extension, themselves, while also honing their ability to think creatively, drawing from radically imaginative ideas in diverse fields.
The core of our program is our foundational How to View Art series, developed and led by acclaimed instructor Dr. Lazar. This three-quarter sequence aims to teach participants the skills of viewing art with the goal that they become adept, independent art viewers. From the very first class, students will be provided with a Toolkit for Art Viewing, which will deepen their understanding of art and the tools used to meaningfully interact with it.
In addition to this series, we also offer individual courses on popular topic areas in art history. Structured around a time period or theme, these individual courses can be taken after or before completion of the series.
The Idea Behind the Approach
How do we perceive colors? Do we require a certain order to respond favorably to an object? In order to understand a piece of art, learners must also understand a variety of cultural factors, including the culture in which a work is produced, as well as that culture's implicit ethics, religious and scientific outlooks, socioeconomic factors, and political structure. This sequence will teach students to consider these topics and more formal elements, such as color, texture, and composition, while viewing any piece of art.
I cannot think of a better way to summarize these three amazing How to View Art classes than by quoting Arthur Danto: “We are here to be transformed. We have come [to the museum] to be different persons . . . It is undeniable that transformation or something like transformation is occasionally an effect that art has on those who encounter it.” In that sense, these classes have themselves been a work of art.