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Michelle Dillman

Art 133
Professor Ward
September 22, 2016
Unit 2
In the reading Interpreting visual Culture by Terry Barrett he talks about the
denotations and connotations and their role in interpreting art. He uses various examples
of different artists work, but one that stood out to me was he talks about Michael Ray
Charles art, who he says his paintings employs and unmasks connotations of racism in
commonly used denotations of African-American subjects. ( Barrett 1). He goes on to
state By using the construct of denotations and connotations as an interpretive strategy
to better understand, evaluate, and enjoy the visually constructed world in which they
live. (Barrett 1). I liked this example because I was able to connect it to the problems
our society is facing now. Barrett goes on to say later in the reading, It is also
immensely important that we interpret the images and designed objects with which we
live. Images and objects present opinions as if they were truth, reinforce attitudes and
confirm or deny beliefs and values. (Barrett 7) I saw this an extremely important when
connecting to the big idea of power, because this allows us to determine the power
within the artwork we are looking at. We all have the opportunity to seek different
answers and opinions and determine message, what power we see within.
It is important for my students to be able to decipher images and different pieces
of art for themselves. I want them to be able to interpret the artwork as they see it.
Children can be very up front and vocal about the things they see, so being able to teach
them to look more into the art than what they see on the surface is important. Being able
to educate them on the culture in which they live is also important because it allows
them to connect with certain artworks and see them for what they are, it allows them to

form opinions or strengthen their already chosen beliefs about certain aspects of their
culture or society.

Barrett, T. (2003). Interpreting visual culture. Art Education, 56(2), 6-12.