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Art Education ISSN: 0004-3125 (Print) 2325-5161 (Online) Journal homepage: The Role of Family Snapshots in Teaching Art History Within a Dialogic Pedagogy Kristin Baxter To cite this article: Kristin Baxter (2012) The Role of Family Snapshots in Teaching Art History Within a Dialogic Pedagogy, Art Education, 65:1, 11-18
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by:  [California State University Sacamento] Date:  07 November 2017, At: 14:11 Art Education ISSN: 0004-3125 (Print) 2325-5161 (Online) Journal homepage: The Role of Family Snapshots in Teaching ArtHistory Within a Dialogic Pedagogy Kristin Baxter To cite this article:  Kristin Baxter (2012) The Role of Family Snapshots in Teaching Art HistoryWithin a Dialogic Pedagogy, Art Education, 65:1, 11-18 To link to this article: Published online: 24 Nov 2015.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 26View related articles   January 2012  / ART EDUCATION 11 T e Role of Family Snapshots in Teaching Art History within a Dialogic Pedagogy  BY KRISTIN BAXTER H ow can educators use dialogic teaching strategies to build connections between artworks and life experiences of students in a survey art history course?  Can stories repre-sented in one’s family snapshots facilitate dialogue about formal content and conceptual issues present in works of art in museums? My interest in understanding if discussions of snapshots could facilitate students’ insights into works of art was prompted, in part, by the work of historian Julia Hirsch (1981). She investigates meanings of family photographs by comparing twentieth-century snapshots of mothers and children, weddings, and homes to works from art history, such as a fourth century B.C. Roman marble stele depicting a wedding ceremony, Robert Campin’s  Annunciation triptych ( Merode Altarpiece ) (1427-32), and a documentary photographic portrait from 1866 by Solomon Butcher depicting Nebraska homesteaders. Hirsch argues, “we still treasure paintings and create photo-graphs which relate, no matter how tenuously, to ancient metaphors of family unity and cohesion: we still seem to acknowledge the values we have shed” (1981, p. 28, 32). Studying images of families in works of art and in snapshots is compel-ling, and I further wondered if looking at both types of images side by side might help students understand both kinds of images more fully. Snapshots often prompt detailed and vivid stories among family members and friends. Therefore, I wondered if dialogue about snapshots could be used, in an introductory art history course, as a springboard to discussing related works of art with students who are sometimes reluctant to fully participate in group discussions.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   S  a  c  a  m  e  n   t  o   ]  a   t   1   4  :   1   1   0   7   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   7  ART EDUCATION /  January 2012 12 Other researchers argue that family photographs and the stories associated with them are primary sources of information about cultural systems, social practices, and family/community histories (Akeret, 1991; Barrett, 1996; Cronin, 1996, 1998; Ge ff  roy, 1990; Lowenthal, 1985; Walker & Moulton, 1989). In addition, researchers maintain that family photographs and associated narra-tives reveal interconnections between public historical events and personal memory, have communal and personal purposes (Blomgren, 1999; Kuhn, 1995; Zelevansky, 1998; Zuromskis, 2006), and show potential for improving family functioning if used in therapeutic settings (Kobbe, 1993). At the same time, by imagining what cultural prac-tices are not represented in a collection of family photographs, one can speculate what is considered culturally taboo or mundane (Belo ff  , 1985; Duncum, 1996; Holland, 1991). T e ubiquity of snapshots in daily life, the cultural value they hold, and my own studio art practice that incorporates the use of these images (Baxter, Lopez, Serig, & Sullivan, 2008) prompted my dissertation research on the educational potential of family snap-shots, particularly for art education (Baxter, 2009, 2005a, 2005b). T is research explored how individuals organized, coded, and made meaning of experience through material/ visual culture, especially family snapshots. T ough I propose a theoretical rationale for using family snapshots within a visual culture approach to art education, putting theories to practical use in the classroom lay outside the scope of this earlier research. T erefore, this current research addresses that limitation. T is article presents evidence that dialogue is essential in the creation of meaning, as students make critical observa-tions between works of 󿬁 ne art and their personal family snapshots. In doing so, students internalize and construct personal meanings about works of 󿬁 ne art, using family snapshots as vehicles. Similarly, they internalize and construct personal meanings of their family snapshots using works of 󿬁 ne art as the vehicles. Exploring the Great Museums of New York  “Exploring the Great Museums of New York” is an introductory level, museum-based art history course that I taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. T e course meets six times in total, including three classroom sessions and three all-day meetings at museums. It is a survey of art history, beginning with the study of Ancient Egyptian art through contemporary American art. In the spring of 2008, we visited the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Newark Museum. T rough PowerPoint slide presentations during the classroom sessions, we studied the historical and cultural signi 󿬁 cance of the works of art we would be  viewing the following day in the museums and considered related snapshots from my own and my students’ collections. Students were instructed to bring in snapshots that had conceptual and/or compositional connections to the works of art that we studied in class and would be viewing the following day in the museums.Prior to taking my class, I visited each of the museums on my own to select the works of art that we would be studying. T e rationale for selecting the works of art was to provide students with a survey of the history of art focusing on iconic works in each museum’s collection. In addition, I selected works that represented familiar themes or activities, such as family portraiture, travel, people at work, homes, and funerals. Table 1 was included in the syllabus and indicates the works of art that we studied at each museum, along with the kinds of photographs that students were to bring to class and to the museums. Students brought framed pictures that they took right o ff   their dorm room walls; others were digital photo-graphs that the students printed o ff   on copier paper; still others were traditional snapshot prints. Class discussions both on campus and in the museums were tape-recorded and transcripts were made. A f er reviewing the transcripts and reading re 󿬂 ective papers the students wrote a f er each museum visit, I identi 󿬁 ed two outcomes of using family snapshots in a dialogic pedagogy. T e 󿬁 rst outcome is that students connect ideas generated by the works of art to experiences with family members. T e second outcome of this approach was that students drew parallels between the formal qualities of works of art and snapshots. A discussion of these outcomes follows a description of how dialogue was used in the museums to foster students’ meaning-making. Dialogic Questioning  While in the museum galleries, a series of dialogic questions were posed about the works of art. Dialogic questioning was inspired by what McKay and Monteverde (2003) call “dialogic looking.” By this they mean, “viewers consciously articulate the questions that arise while they look” (p. 42). Dialogic questions have three parts, each part based on observations and each part building on the next. T ey are grounded in formal analysis, they ask viewers to create meaning based on visual evidence, and they connect to viewers’ life experiences. Students are 󿬁 rst asked, “Describe the image. What do you see?” In doing so, the group acknowledges formal qualities of the work of art, allowing each person to point out things he or she sees. Dialogic questions, based also on the visual thinking strategies developed by Housen and Yenawine (2001), then asked students to probe for meanings and make interpretations, such as “What’s going on in this picture?, What do you see that makes you say that?, Why do you say that?, and What else do you see?” Finally, questions were posed that asked students to make connections between the work of art and students’ life experiences, such as “When have you found yourself in this situation? If you were the artist, how might you have responded to this idea? What would you add or change?”A f er discussing these questions while  viewing works of art in the galleries, I then asked students similar questions in relation to their snapshots. Students were asked to describe their snapshots and the personal meanings they hold. T en they were asked what formal or conceptual characteristics were shared between the work of art and snapshot. Finally, I asked, “How might understanding your snapshot help us under-stand the work of art?” T e purpose of using snapshots with conceptual and/or compo-sitional connections to works of art was to encourage dialogue in galleries and to build connections between artworks and the life experiences of the students. T is article presents evidence that dialogue is essential in the creation of meaning, as students make critical observations between works of  󿬁 ne art and their personal  family snapshots.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   S  a  c  a  m  e  n   t  o   ]  a   t   1   4  :   1   1   0   7   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   7   January 2012  / ART EDUCATION 13 Works of Art and Museum  T emes of Related Student Snapshots Brooklyn MuseumJudy Chicago, Dinner Party  , 1974-79Kitchen scene; dinner party Brooklyn MuseumMiwa Yanagi, My Grandmother Series, 2000Memories, dreams, future goalsBrooklyn MuseumArahmaiani, Display Case, Etalase, 1994/2007Any photo showing everyday objectsBrooklyn MuseumEgypt Reborn exhibition:Senwosret IIISenenmut Relief from the Tomb of AkhenthotepFamily GroupAmerican Identities exhibition:Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington , 1796Metropolitan Museum of ArtAncient Greek 󿬁 gurative sculpturesPortraits—groups and individual, school portraits, wedding portraits, etc. Commemorates an eventBrooklyn MuseumEgypt Reborn exhibition:Hippos, reclining dog, hedgehog rattleA photo you consider a “keepsake”; or another object from the home that you consider a “keepsake” or a good luck charmBrooklyn MuseumTejo Remy, Chest of Drawers, Model #45 “You can lay down your memories,”   1991 Visible Storage Study CenterMetropolitan Museum of ArtEl Anatusi, Between Heaven and Earth , 2006Joseph Cornell boxes and compare to the Meketre models from Ancient EgyptNewark MuseumBallantine HouseAny other object that tells a story, or triggers a memory or is in some way nostalgic or meaningfulBrooklyn MuseumAlbert Bierstadt,  A Storm in the Rocky Mountains,  Mt. Rosalie , 1866A tourist photograph or a postcardBrooklyn MuseumDana Schutz, Google, 2005Working on your computer; or a picture of a friend on the computerMetropolitan Museum of ArtKwoma Ceiling, New Guinea, 1975/2002Newark MuseumBallantine HouseYour home, or the home of someone you know; how does it represent the owner/family?Metropolitan Museum of ArtAncient Greek Vase, Geometric PeriodDamien Hirst, T e Physical Impossibility of Death in the  Mind of Someone Living  , 1991Photographs taken at funerals; or a picture that makes you think of your own mortality Metropolitan Museum of ArtTemple of DendurAny place of worshipSpecial exhibition: Blog.mode: Addressing fashion Someone wearing a special out 󿬁 tWhitney Museum of American ArtBeth Campbell, T e Following Room , 2007-2008Any photograph that challenges our perceptions, maybe you captured a really interesting angle of a building, or it’s just a really strange depiction of reality Newark MuseumJoseph Stella, Voice of the City  , 1920-1922New York City skyline or any cityscape  Table 1 Works of Art Studied at Each Museum and Themes of Related Students’ Snapshots    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a   S   t  a   t  e   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y   S  a  c  a  m  e  n   t  o   ]  a   t   1   4  :   1   1   0   7   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   7
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