Start here to lay the foundation for successful, subsequent explorations in the Contemporary Art Start Curriculum Guide and in person at MOCA. The two units in this section are designed to help students become familiar with the basic vocabulary and concepts of contemporary art, as well as the inquiry approach they’ll encounter throughout the curriculum and during guided visits at MOCA.
Looking at art has a lot in common with reading. Both activities demand that we look at symbols and try to decipher their meaning. This unit introduces students to the idea of searching for meaning, whether it is an explicit message from an artist or the way a work of art resonates with personal experiences and feelings. With encouragement, they can enter into a dialogue with works of art, bringing their own meaning to a wide variety of forms. In the process, they also learn that a single piece of art can have multiple messages.
Every discipline, like every country or ethnic group, has its own language--and that includes the field of art. Artists, critics, curators, historians, and museum lovers use a special vocabulary that helps them talk about creations and concepts. In this unit, students can begin to build their art vocabulary, collecting and using words associated with the visual arts--all of which helps them develop confidence and fluency in viewing and discussing art.