Photo: Stephanie J. Frostad, Snow Angels, oil on canvas, 1994, MAM Collection, gift of Sharon and Don Snavely, 1996.04, copyright the artist.

Learning To See/Seeing To Learn

September 7 2012 - January 13 2013

This exhibition was curated as a means of providing viewers insight into the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). VTS is a form of inquiry-based art viewing that is used nation-wide by museum educators and school districts. VTS invites the viewer to interact with the art at whatever level of understanding they bring to it. Through careful viewing and guided discussion, a greater understanding of the work develops. This makes the artwork more accessible to the viewer. It has also been shown that used over time with students VTS improves critical thinking, language, and literacy skills.

The VTS process involves a simple sequence of questions that invites viewers to look more closely at a work of art.

1. What’s going on in this artwork?

2. What do you see that makes you say that?

3. What else can you find?

<p>Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish-Kootenai, Métis-Cree, Shoshone-Bannock), <span class="italic">Modern Times</span>, lithograph, 1993, MAM Contemporary American Indian Art Collection, gift of the artist, copyright the artist, 2000.04.06.</p>

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish-Kootenai, Métis-Cree, Shoshone-Bannock), Modern Times, lithograph, 1993, MAM Contemporary American Indian Art Collection, gift of the artist, copyright the artist, 2000.04.06.

VTS was developed jointly by the former director of education at the Museum of Modern Art, Phillip Yenawine, and cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen. Yenawine discovered that most viewers visiting the art museum enjoyed themselves but brought very little back from the experience. They were essentially glossing over the artwork as they moved through the galleries. Both Housen and Yenawine realized that there are critical stages of aesthetic development, and most viewers are only at the beginning level, the storyteller, who seeks and emphasizes the narrative qualities of a work of art.

The artworks in this exhibit, composed of pieces selected from the MAM Collection, lead the viewer through works of art that encourage viewing from all stages yet most are selected to coincide with the two beginning levels, the narrative and constructive. The visitor will be encouraged to look and respond to the work using the three simple questions posed by the Visual Thinking Strategies system of inquiry, providing a rich and enjoyable viewing experience.