Viewpoints: How We Understand Art

Scottsdale Arts explores a theory that defines five ways people view art

“Viewpoints: How We Understand Art,” a new exhibition from Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, explores a theory that defines five ways people view art. The exhibition is on view at the Center Space gallery at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. An online component of the exhibition will be available on Nov. 20 here.

“Viewpoints: How We Understand Art” utilizes the Viewpoints theory, developed by Dr. Mary Erickson, a professor emerita of art education at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Erickson co-curated the exhibition with Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation for Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation.

“Viewing art is a process, and how one responds to art depends on a person’s life experiences and education,” Hales says. “Providing people with varied exhibitions and arts learning opportunities can expand their viewpoints, and in turn, increase their appreciation of art.”

Erickson and Hales collaborated on the selection of artists, development of text panels and adaptation of the theory for use by visitors within the exhibition, which includes interactive self-reflection activities. These activities will be available at the physical exhibition in the Center Space gallery and in the virtual exhibition.

“The Viewpoints theory identifies a set of ideas people use to make sense of unfamiliar artworks,” Erickson says. “The theory is based on my own research with hundreds of elementary and secondary students as well as with adults with varying prior art experience.”

The exhibition showcases a wide range of artistic styles to help viewers broaden the range of artworks they appreciate and deepen their understanding of them through the use of the Viewpoints theory.

Papay Solomon is among the artists whose work is included in the exhibition. His self-portrait “K.O.S. (Knowledge of Self)” was painted in 2018 following two years of self-reflection.

“In this moment, I was trying to understand how I, as a young Black African man, fit into the fabric of these American landscapes,” Solomon says. “For centuries, people have always had varying viewpoints on a multitude of subjects with different degrees of complexities.”

The Viewpoints self-reflection activities in the gallery and online will guide viewers to look closely at three different artworks to see which viewpoints they tend to use. It is an opportunity for people to learn more about themselves through a metacognitive approach. Hales hopes the experience of looking closely at artworks, with the Viewpoints activity as a guide, will help viewers understand and appreciate the different ways people view art.

Exhibiting artists include Merryn  Alaka, Susan  Beiner, Antoinette  Cauley, Aaron Coleman, Tom Eckert, Fausto Fernandez, Mary Hood, Siri Devi  Khandavilli, Christine Lee, Stephen Marc, John Randall Nelson, Mark  Pomilio, Dean Reynolds, Henry  Schoebel, Diane Silver, Forrest Solis and Papay Solomon.


Viewpoints: How We Understand Art

Through March 25, 2021

Virtual reception Nov. 20, 7 p.m.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale

For more information, visit scottsdaleartslearning.org.

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