Title

A Beautiful Mind: Critical Thinking in the Visual Arts

Location

Kansas State University-Manhattan Campus

Session Type

Workshop

Streaming Media

Session Abstract

Whereas investigations, discoveries, and knowledge-building in STEMM* courses are inextricably grounded within the domain of critical thinking, appreciation of the visual arts, by popular consensus, has long been cloaked within elusive realms of personal taste, insular introspection, or emotive expressions of feelings. And yet, the broad, transdisciplinary definition of critical thinking propounded by the Association of American Colleges and Universities—among myriad others—makes clear that any presumptive supremacy of intuitive speculation in the arts is actually illusionary and, therefore, the antithesis of those more rational methods of inquiry that can better unshroud truly profound, multi-layered understandings of even the most enigmatic artifacts. AAC&U further asserts that only through deliberate leveraging of analytical tools can one—when confronted with the vagaries of ambiguity, assumption, context, literal meaning, metaphor—formulate well-reasoned conclusions or critiques. Consequently, that the visual arts should be exempted from critical thinking is belied by the longstanding imperative that connoisseurs of art must, by definition, wrestle with precisely those selfsame vagaries. Through (1) an introductory, interactive discussion of critical thinking in the visual arts followed by (2) a series of short-duration, small-group exercises (constructed with the “artistically-challenged” in mind) and then (3) a summative, cross-disciplinary challenge, this imagery-infused workshop models pedagogical strategies and critical thinking activities that are nonetheless translatable to a wide range of other disciplines.

* The second ‘M’ in this variant of the acronym STEM acknowledges the medical and health sciences.

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A Beautiful Mind: Critical Thinking in the Visual Arts

Kansas State University-Manhattan Campus

Whereas investigations, discoveries, and knowledge-building in STEMM* courses are inextricably grounded within the domain of critical thinking, appreciation of the visual arts, by popular consensus, has long been cloaked within elusive realms of personal taste, insular introspection, or emotive expressions of feelings. And yet, the broad, transdisciplinary definition of critical thinking propounded by the Association of American Colleges and Universities—among myriad others—makes clear that any presumptive supremacy of intuitive speculation in the arts is actually illusionary and, therefore, the antithesis of those more rational methods of inquiry that can better unshroud truly profound, multi-layered understandings of even the most enigmatic artifacts. AAC&U further asserts that only through deliberate leveraging of analytical tools can one—when confronted with the vagaries of ambiguity, assumption, context, literal meaning, metaphor—formulate well-reasoned conclusions or critiques. Consequently, that the visual arts should be exempted from critical thinking is belied by the longstanding imperative that connoisseurs of art must, by definition, wrestle with precisely those selfsame vagaries. Through (1) an introductory, interactive discussion of critical thinking in the visual arts followed by (2) a series of short-duration, small-group exercises (constructed with the “artistically-challenged” in mind) and then (3) a summative, cross-disciplinary challenge, this imagery-infused workshop models pedagogical strategies and critical thinking activities that are nonetheless translatable to a wide range of other disciplines.

* The second ‘M’ in this variant of the acronym STEM acknowledges the medical and health sciences.

http://newprairiepress.org/isitl/2017/Workshops/3