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A Community of Learners: A Closer Look

Hood Quarterly, spring/summer 2009

Learning to Look, created by the Hood Museum of Art, is an approach designed to help viewers look carefully and think critically about any work of art they encounter. The approach includes the five steps involved in exploring a work of art: careful observation, analysis, research, interpretation, and critique. Developed originally to equip regional teachers of all grade levels and subjects to integrate art into the curriculum, it is a technique that has proven to be empowering for a much broader audience.

For this reason, the museum is creating a new series of brochures called “A Closer Look” that will be available in the galleries for visitors. Each brochure focuses on a single work of art and leads visitors through the Learning to Look technique. The first brochure was introduced in the winter and focuses on the American painting pictured below by Lilly Martin Spencer called The Jolly Washerwoman. Careful observation of the rich visual information included in the painting, coupled with the subsequent stages of inquiry, reveals much about nineteenth-century America, including women’s changing roles, issues of class and immigration, and insights into clothing and laundering practices of the time.

Whether you already have some background in art or you would like to develop your confidence and skills for interpreting visual objects from diverse cultures and time periods, we hope you will visit the museum and enjoy using one of the “A Closer Look” brochures.

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