As part of our new tour guide training class, Walker’s Manager of School Programs Susan Rotilie presented one technique or strategy for engaging visitors in a discussion about works of art. The Critical Response idea, used by many, but brought to our attention by dancer/choreographer Liz Lehrman is a strategy for evoking conversation, dialogue and discussion through a series of questions and responses. The idea has also been adopted by the Minneapolis Public Schools as part of their Artful Teaching and Learning program: “A three-year project funded by the United States Department of Education, ARTFUL TEACHING AND LEARNING researches and makes known the effects of teaching in and through the arts to improve student achievement.”
With our tour guides, Susan led a discussion about Bruce Conner’s Bride using the following questions:
1.What do you notice? Imagine using all of your senses.
2. What does this image remind you of?
3. What feeling do you get from the image?
4. What does the image make you wonder about?
5. What do you think the artist wants you to take away from the image?
A fairly simple series of questions led into a pretty amazingly insightful discussion about the piece. This technique will be useful for guides, particularly when a group wants to see a work that perhaps the guide isn’t 100% prepared to talk about, but still eager to engage the visitors in a discussion. The strategy would also be a good technique to teach visitors to use when they view art/visit museums on their own.