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Discussion Strategy: Word to a Work (Quick Tip)

Prepare a set of cards that relate to more than one work in a given gallery.  Words may vary considerably by age level (abstract, realistic, bright, dull, lively, colorful, sad, happy, magical, spooky, fantastical, etc.) Be prepared to provide a simple definition for each word.

Tell students that they get to select a work of art that matches a descriptive word. They are to place their word face down about a foot away from the work they’ve selected in a given area (indicate the boundaries for this activity. Tell students to be prepared to read the word on their card, say how the word connects to the work of art, and identify what in the work of art helps it match the word on the card.

Depending on age and/or size of groups students can work in pairs or individually.  As each individual/group selects a word, read the word to them.  When all of the words are distributed, ask students if they know what their word means, and to come to you if they do not. Note which work has the fewest or the most words underneath it and start with either work.  Ask each pair to report their choice, making sure both members of the pair get to share their ideas. As you go from work to work, note any similarities or differences in the kinds of words selected for each work. Acknowledge that people can respond differently to the same work of art for different good reasons and that’s one of the things that makes art interesting.