The pursuit of these insights in our studio core courses (Visual Arts 10100, 10200, and 10300) is exacting (see the College Catalog for course description and sample problems). It is crucial that students learn the observational skills for making precise phenomenological distinctions in the constructed world and within works of art. These skills are acquired by making images/objects, by watching others make images, and through regular critiques in which student works are critically discussed by all members of the class. As students gain observational skills, they literally see their world differently, experience it differently, and, thus, think about it differently. The student it is hoped experiences an integration of seeing and thinking, and understands the potential of their perceptual systems as analytic and expressive tools.
The discriminations learned through the heuristic processes of making are then taken to cultural sites such as the Smart Museum,The Renaissance Society, and The Art Institute, to the streets of Chicago with its rich architectural and urbanistic history, and to the powerful visual and spatial markers of our lives such as television and the great Chicago commercial emporia. Here the language the student discovered is used to critically examine and interpret both what are traditionally considered works of art and other cultural products. They enter into a critical exchange that describes the affect of a work and analyzes how the context and formal structure of that work determines the affect.