In this class, we study different aspects of art and visual culture in order to enhance our understanding of them.
We analyze particular elements, including formal, historical, personal, and cultural aspects, realizing that in
order interpret, we must look not just at the code of an artist but also at the culture in which he or she works.
(Like what you did when writing your art criticism.) This assignment takes you outside of the art world, to
write a different type of art criticism; one that compares a place that you interact with on a normal basis, a
shopping center or mall, to a museum.
Objective: To consider how display affects our perceptions of a product or place, and how people act in
seemingly different places.
You will visit a mall or other commercial place AND a museum or art gallery (the CCP or the University
of Arizona Museum of Art, for example). Once at each location, select an area.
Write a two page paper based on the following prompt
you can start looking at prompts from the attached observation
sheet. Observe and take notes of your surroundings (this should include but not be limited to: people,
clothes, accessories, discussions, artwork, movement, architecture etc.).
write an essay in which you synthesize at least five of what you
consider your most important observations. Additionally, please address what the comparison suggests we, as a
society, might value.
Make Sure you compare a commercial place and a museum/gallery:
Focus only on listening for a few
minutes. Compare the sound you
hear in both spaces. How does the
background noise affect your
experience there? Is the sound
related to the visual experience?
Describe the most dominant sense
(touch, taste, feel, sight, smell) in
your experience of this
culture/place. Why is it?
What are people doing in each place?
What objects are they carrying?
How are they dressed?
What do you notice about how they
What kind of body language do they
What are they talking about?
How is the architecture of each place
How are objects displayed?
How is the image of the body
visually represented at each
location? (focus on art works in
the museum, and store
commercial center- not the actual
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