Artist Jim Reinders appropriated Stonehenge and recontextualized
it in Carhenge, near Alliance, Nebraska.
The same students who can
understand and use terms like
emphasis, rhythm, and variety can
deal effectively with the expressive
terms in art. They are no less fundamental to art. As human beings,
our first response in the presence of
the unfamiliar object is to search for
meaning in order to understand. The
expressive qualities of art are definitely as important as the elements
of art or the principles of design.
Opportunities for Interpretation
Other terms like allegory,
connotation, denotation, context,
juxtaposition, gaze, hybridity, and visual
puns are only a few that offer opportunities for deep exploration of the
meaning of artworks. These explorations can be directed toward fine
art, folk art, and so called “outsider
art” as well as the visual culture of
advertising art, logos, and commercial art that surround our students.
Obviously, discussions should
be developmentally appropriate and
sensitive to school and community
environments. Art teachers are certainly the most informed teachers to
lead such discussions. They can help
students understand the messages
conveyed in the subtle and not so
subtle world of images by attending
to the expressive qualities of art as
much as to their surface appearance.
Dow, Arthur Wesley. Composition.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.
Sharon Warwick is national art consultant
for Davis Publications. swarwick@davisart.
Students analyze contemporary
and historic meanings in specific
artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry.
Concerning Works of Art
Appropriation: What does the borrowing from another artwork suggest about the meaning of a work
Content: What ideas about life or
art are implied in the content of
Metaphor: What idea or thing outside the artwork is suggested in
Mood: What is the emotional tone
of the artwork?
Narrative: What story does this
Subject: What does the subject
matter tell us about the artist’s
Symbol: What abstract ideas do
the objects in the artwork represent?
Theme: What ideas about the art
world or life in general does the