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Visual Literacy: The Art of Seeing

All-Day Program

Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Code: 1H0276

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The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434, Jan van Eyck (National Gallery, London)

The ability to derive meaning from what we see is an essential skill in a culture saturated with images. Much like other forms of communication, it is a way of making a statement—but visually, not verbally. Once you understand this language, reading images, particularly art, is not only simpler but infinitely more gratifying.

Using outstanding works from the history of art as well as images from popular culture, Lisa Passaglia Bauman, assistant professor of art history at George Mason University, focuses on how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how we can see it as a cultural product that reveals something about the society that produced it.

9:30–10:45 a.m.  The Visual Elements of Art

Think of visual elements as the vocabulary of art: line, shape, space, texture, and color. These are the things in an art work—no matter what kind or where or when it was made—that help determine its content.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  The Principles of Design

Principles of design guide the arrangement of art’s visual vocabulary. Unity, balance, scale, and emphasis help explain why some arrangements work better than others.  

12:15–1:15 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own)

1:15–2:15 p.m.  Iconography: Understanding Symbols and Meaning

Clues to meaning, communicated in the language of symbols, often exist within art works. 

2:30–4 p.m.  Is There a Correct Way To Appreciate Art?

Anxiety can underlie the art experience for some people: What if I don’t get it? Explore 10 questions that can make every encounter with art richer.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)