Abstract

That aesthetic experience can be encountered almost anywhere enables use of a wide range of everyday encounters with visual culture in teaching art; vernacular still-life arrangements can be a rich resource in teaching students to see as artists see. Here, I make this argument through one case, the looking-and-writing assignments in an undergraduate elementary-education course. I propose a framework for including shop-window designs as visual-culture teaching resources, arguing that the artful compositions in shop windows can introduce and explore traditional subjects in painting. The article addresses two questions: (a) Can art-novice students respond to shop-window compositions with innovative interpretations, using art-appropriate terms? (b) Does student interpretation of paintings as commercial communication encourage defensible interpretations of artworks? After a brief review of some still-life principles, Dewey’s concept of aesthetic experience, and a concept of how framing operates conceptually in the museum setting, some examples of art-novice interpretations of downtown imagery provide the background to questions for further research.

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