The students for whom this is written will need concrete ways in which to access an image. The following questions have been adapted from a list by Monika Brown of UNC Penbroke. It is meant to be used as a worksheet that can be taken to any image, Victorian or contemporary.
How to Talk About Art
2. Who is in the picture? What are they doing?
3. What is the setting of the picture? (pastoral, city, countryside, inside, outside, day time, dusk, middle of the night, etc.)
4. What are the major objects in the image?
5. Choose one person in the image and describe him/her in the following ways:
6. List all the colors in the image. Which colors are used the most? What mood does the artist create by using these hues?
7. Based on the people, setting, and objects, what do you think is happening in this scene? Why do you say this?
8. Describe a surprising aspect of this image. It could be an unusual medium, genre, angle, lighting, content, or anything else that seems unique to you. Then, explain why this is unique.
9. Think about the culture surrounding this image. What are three or four major historical trends from the time this was created?
9b. What are the dominant values of the culture? These values will vary depending on other factors such as race, class, and gender.
9c. Does this picture approve of, contradict, or disapprove of these values? How do you know?
10. What does the work reveals about the creator's life and experiences? What makes you say this?
The first image should be pulled from a contemporary source, specifically Twitter, Facebook, or Billboard.com. It is crucial to access an image that is broadcast to your students and that is readily accessible to them. For this reason, a magazine cover or Twitter profile picture are ideal because these images are specifically chosen by that outlet to reach your students. Secondary sources include album covers, but most students no longer buy entire albums so they may not have as much exposure to this art. Also, paparazzi photos are not as good for this project because they are not "art," although it could be argued that the celebrities chose those outfits and stylings because they knew they would be photographed and published in a very specific format, much the way a paying commissioner of a painting would dress him or herself. One other feature the image should have is controversy. It is recommended that you use images that will get a strong emotional response from students but that you do not convey your own moral values while using the image.