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The Bean, Downtown Chicago

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For the past several weeks, we have analyzed works of art according to the visual elements (light, line, shape, color, space, mass, texture, and volume) and principles of design (balance, rhythm, contrast, movement, and emphasis). We are now studying art from a variety of cultures, from the ancient world to the modern era, while learning how artists from these cultures have made aesthetic decisions in their works that are responses to both their personal tastes and the artistic traditions in which they were raised. In this final project, you will be combining your new visual analysis skills with your beginning knowledge of art history as you select and investigate a work of art in your neighborhood or city and develop a presentation on this artwork to be shared with the class at the end of the semester.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this assignment, you will know how to: 

•  Explore and observe the varieties of art forms surrounding you 

•  Analyze a work of art according to its use of the visual elements and principles of design

 •  Understand through research the social, cultural, and historical context in which art is made and continues to be viewed

•  Develop a presentation for your peers that introduces them to a work of art of value to you

 Task Description

In this class, we've looked at many works of art housed in international collections and made by legendary artists. However, this is not the only art worth studying! As you observed in the "What is Art?" discussion held during Week 1, visual art comes in many forms and you often encounter it on a daily basis, whether it's something hanging on the wall of your home, a street mural in your neighborhood, an historic building on your block, or a public sculpture in a park. 

For this project, you will be selecting ONE of these findings, providing a close visual description of the object, image or building, conducting some research on it, and developing a presentation to be shared with your peers at the end of the semester. As you go about your daily activities, try to select something that you might see all the time, but never paid much attention to until now. Find something that intrigues you visually or conceptually (in terms of subject matter) and play art detective as you uncover more about the artwork. Who made it? Was it a single artist or a group of people? How was it made? Was it funded only by this artist or was it publicly or privately supported? When was it made? If a public artwork, why was this site chosen? How does it respond to this particular location or to the community surrounding it?

After you have selected your artwork, take some photographs of it. You can use a camera or camera phone, but try to take some pictures of it yourself as seen from various angles. Then, before you research it further, write a close visual description of it that takes into consideration how the artwork utilizes the visual elements (color, light, space, texture, shape) and principles of design (balance, contrast, rhythm, pattern, and emphasis). Write a 350-word minimum description of the artwork's visual characteristics using these elements and principles.

 You will then be researching your selection. Begin by conducting a general online search using the title or name of the object or even searching by general terms (e.g. mural, corner of 1st street and Harrison) and start collecting information on this work. Try to stay away from dubious sources (Wikipedia is not acceptable for this project) and look to articles in city newspapers (like the Chicago Tribune or a neighborhood paper), city websites (like the cityofchicago.org), the artist's own website, and/or the art gallery that represents him/her. You are also encouraged to research the artwork at your school's library by searching through books and articles on this artist, written by important scholars in the field of art and art history. Check out your campus's library online first and either ask a librarian for help or conduct a search for an article on JSTOR or another academic search engine to find out more good information on your artist. To access this information, you will only need to use your Blackboard login information. For example, here is a link to Kennedy-King's library Link to library Each campus will have its own library resources, which you can typically find under the "Academics" heading in the menu items at the top of the page.

You will then continue an analysis of your selection by writing a 350-word analysis of the work's historical, cultural, political, or aesthetic context, which you learned about by through research.  You are required to have a minimum of 3 outside sources (not including your textbook and remember, Wikipedia doesn't count), referenced in your writing and properly cited at the end of your presentation.

Overall, your presentation should address the following four questions:

What attracted you to this artwork and what do you think it says about yourself (your own tastes) and/or your community?

1.  In what ways does this image, object or building successfully utilize the visual elements and principles of design to make it a visually compelling work of art?

2.  What have you learned about the artwork through research that you couldn't have known otherwise?

3.  How has your appreciation for this artwork changed as a result of closely studying it?

 Project Requirements

 Selection of 1 artwork in your home or community

·       Inclusion of 2-4 photographs of the artwork

·       350-word visual analysis of the artwork's visual elements and principles of design

·       350-word analysis of the artwork's historical, cultural, political or aesthetic context

·       Inclusion of 3 good sources listed in a Works Cited page at the end (not Wikipedia) that you used to learn more about it. Please try to seek out academic sources using the guidelines written above!

·       Consideration of the four questions above to guide both parts of your essay (the visual and contextual analysis)

·       All of this should be put into some sort of presentation format. You can use Word, Powerpoint, Prezi or another format. If you use Powerpoint, make sure to save it as a PDF file so it is easy for others to download and read

·       While you will not be evaluated on your tech savvy, try to make the presentation as visually stimulating as possible. Include a title page. Make sure you don't crowd each page with text, but leave enough room so we can see good quality images of your select artwork.






The Bean, Downtown Chicago

Section 1

Cloud Gate or 'The Bean’ is a monument at the Millennium Park, Chicago, and an artwork designed by Anish Kapoor. I appreciate this sculpture since it is created from reflective stainless steel plates that form an illusion of a drop of mercury. It epitomizes my taste in artistry as it fulfills my aesthetic expectations by creating a...


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