greek word meaning “ sense perception ”. backgroundthe part W r i t i n g

greek word meaning “ sense perception ”. backgroundthe part W r i t i n g

OVERVIEW: For this assignment you will virtually visit a museum and select a piece of art to write about. Then you will compare it to any “text” explored in this course. Feel free to use anything from lectures, videos, and/or readings and complete all of the following instructions.

Choose one (or more) of the following museum links below to virtually tour. When you open each link (notice I don’t say when you go to the museum’s website), you’ll find an initial area labeled “stories” which is a series of ONLINE EXHIBITS. Browse several ONLINE EXHIBITS and choose a work of art from one of the ONLINE EXHIBITS.

Wow! Did you notice how many times ONLINE EXHIBITS appears in bold in those previous three sentences? Well, that’s because this is the #1 mistake students make when approaching this assignment. As an example, below you’ll find The Museum of Modern Art as an option. Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night is housed in this museum and you’ll even see it when you click on the link below for this museum. But you won’t find it in the museum’s ONLINE EXHIBIT, so avoid getting a zero on this assignment for something completely avoidable. It is essential that you find something from an ONLINE EXHIBIT, not just from the museum, so re-read those above three sentences now.

The more you explore, the easier this essay will be. You want to make sure you choose something that you’ll be able to effectively analyze, which is why I suggest checking out several ONLINE EXHIBITS. But, wait, where are these ONLINE EXHIBITS again? Answer: in the initial area labeled “stories” when you click on each link below:

Virtually tour your chosen museum through its ONLINE EXHIBITS, and select a work of art (keep in mind that some museum links above have multiple ONLINE EXHIBITS while others may have just one). The work can be a painting, sculpture, photograph, mixed media, or any other medium exhibited in one of the ONLINE EXHIBITS.

Complete all 4 parts of WRITING THE ESSAY outlined below. I highly recommend you review this entire web page prior to exploring the ONLINE EXHIBITS.

Submit your completed essay to the Aesthetic Experience Essay Dropbox in MyCourses. Here are the minimum requirements for the essay itself:

  • Between 750-1000 words in length, not including course information, student name, or title
  • Double-spaced using one of the following 12-point fonts: Times New Roman, Arial, or Tahoma
  • Use of college-level vocabulary and sentence structure
  • Carefully proofread for spelling, content, and punctuation
  • Professional appearance—neat and correctly typed using paragraphs to transition ideas
  • No run-ons or fragments
  • An image of your chosen work of art included in the essay or attached as a separate document in the Dropbox
  • Uploaded as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file.


Be sure to provide the following at the beginning of your essay.

  • Your full name
  • Give your essay a title that relates to your “aesthetic experience.”
  • Name of the museum
  • Name of the ONLINE EXHIBIT explored

Part 1: Introduction

The introduction of your essay should provide your initial thoughts prior to your virtual museum visit. It might be a good idea to write your introductory paragraph PRIOR to your virtual visit. Which museum are you choosing? Why did you choose it? What do you think you’ll “experience”? What are you looking forward to in terms of your exploration? What are you least looking forward to?

Part 2: Artwork Information

This next part of your essay should contain all of the following pieces of information. For this part of the essay, feel free to format it as a list rather than a paragraph:

  • Title of work
  • Artist’s name
  • Creation date
  • Classification (i.e. painting, sculpture, mixed-media, etc.)
  • Time period and/or style
  • Medium (What’s it made of? What materials were used?)
  • Size and scope
  • Social, Cultural, or Historical origin (i.e. Where’s it from? What is it a product of?)
  • Western or Non-western Humanities Classification (Based on the social, historical, and cultural contexts: Would you classify this work as Western or Non-Western? Based on your research and observations, provide reasons and evidence supporting your classification claim.)

For this part, exploring the direct museum website is fine, but make sure you cite accordingly.

Part 3: Critical Analysis

This part will serve as the bulk of your essay. There is no minimum paragraph requirement (and for those who are used to the 5-paragraph essay, you’ll find that 5 paragraphs will not work for this essay), but each area that follows should read as an essay. First, provide an initial analysis of your chosen work of art in fully developed paragraphs using the following guidelines:

  • Identify the most significant art principles that were used in the work of art, using at least three relevant and genre-specific vocabulary words (see list of acceptable vocabulary words at the end of this web page), clearly describing how the artist used them. Provide a minimum of three specific, descriptive details to support the use of each selected art principle.
  • Select two adjectives describing the overall mood of the piece (stay away from vague terms such as amazing, awesome, excellent, etc.). Give a minimum of two specific/descriptive details to support your claims.

After your initial analysis, further analyze the work and address the following in fully developed paragraphs:

  • Describe the main social, historical, and cultural contexts of the work? Refer to your responses in the “Art Work Information” section above.
  • Describe the primary purpose of the art work.
  • Describe the main artistic statement.
  • Describe how the work reflects the human condition, or how it communicates as a “human, creative expression.”

Next, compare the work of art with another work of art explored in the course and include the following items in fully developed paragraphs:

  • Select and identify another work of art from the course content.
  • Explain three qualities that the work from the museum shares with the work from the course, with specific examples to support your argument.
  • Based on your comparison, explain whether or not the work of art from the museum is a “masterpiece” or might become a masterpiece, using specific examples to support your decision.

Part 4: Conclusion

Finally, conclude your essay with a fully developed paragraph that reflects on your initial attitudes from your introductory paragraph. What surprised you? What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite part? Include any other thoughts about your virtual visit to wrap up your essay.

VISUAL ART VOCABULARY AND PRINCIPLES: Here is a list of terms that you may find beneficial for your analysis.



Abstract Art

Art that takes from reality only what the artist wants or that renders a visual depiction of concepts in the artist’s mind (phenomenal). Such art typically does not resemble the familiar world of regular (veridical) perception.


The study of the nature of beauty and art (including the study of human “response” to the “aesthetic experience”). It is a significant branch of philosophy. The word “Aesthetics” is derived from the Greek word meaning “sense perception”.


The part of a pictorial representation that appears to be in the distance. The general scene or surface against which designs, patterns or figures are viewed.


A principle of art that is concerned with the sense of stability of the visual elements. There are three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial.


Italian term in painting utilizing light and dark contrast to create the effect of modeling a figure or object. It enhances the effect of depth.


A principle of art that uses the differences between the visual elements to create variety, emphasis or interest. Contrast in value is the difference between light and dark.

Cool Colors

Colors such as purples, blues and greens that produce the impression of coolness.

Focal area

A principle of art that stresses one element of art; defines a center of interest or draws attention to certain areas with a work of art.


The part of a scene or picture that is nearest to and in front of the viewer.


The visual element that is three-dimensional; having height, width and depth.

Genre (broadly in the humanities)

a distinct category within a discipline (e.g. categories in film, literature, art, music, musical stage, etc.). EXAMPLE: Poetry is a genre of Literature.

Human Condition

Encompasses the uniqueness and totality of the inner experience of “being human”. It is often focused on the ultimate concerns of human existence. Various disciplines in the humanities attempt to express this experience.


The degree of purity of a color. Deep colors have a high intensity.

Installation art

An art that creates an architectural tableau using objects drawn from and making reference to artistic sources and everyday life.


A work that in style, form, and execution far exceeds other works of its time. It is a human creation (e.g. painting, novel, film, musical score) that continues to be relevant and/or admired by multiple generations. It is a work that has a profound effect on humanity.

Media or Medium

the particular materials in which a given artist works.


A principle of art used to guide a viewer’s eye throughout the work; a trend.

Negative space

Spaces surrounding shapes or forms in two- and three-dimensional art.

Non-Western Humanities

Creative expressions in one of the disciplines of humanities exhibited in the social, historical, and cultural contexts of one of (broadly) Asia, Africa, Middle East, Indigenous Peoples of all continents (except Europe), and Oceania. Narrowly: China, India, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Pacific Islands, Native America, Aborigines, and Mesoamerica.


Repetition of elements or motif.


A formula for projecting the illusion of three- dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface.

Positive space

Shapes or forms in two-dimensional and three- dimensional art.


A principle of art concerned with the relationships in size, one part to another or to the whole.


(1) A style that focuses on the everyday lives of the middle and lower classes, portraying their world in a serious, accurate, and unsentimental way; (2) a genre in several humanities disciplines that is a conscious attempt to imitate reality in its expression.


An art element repeated over and over that can produce visual rhythm.


The strength of a hue – a vivid hue is of high saturation.


When proportional relationships are created relative to a specific unit of measurement.


The visual element that has two-dimensions: height and width; a space with a defined or implied boundary. Two basic groups: geometric and organic.


A visual image that represents something other than itself.


The balance of like forms and colors on opposite sides of the vertical axis of a composition.


The message or subject the work communicates. The theme can relate to the subject matter or be an idea or emotion. Content is another word used for theme in humanities.


The visual element that refers to the way something feels or looks like it feels and can be actual or implied.


A principle of art that is concerned with the sense of wholeness or completeness.

Vanishing point

In linear perspective – the point on the horizon at which the receding parallel lines appear to converge and then vanish.

Veridical Perception

A perception caused by something outside of your mind (e.g. light waves striking your eyes causing an image in your brain). This is a perception caused by a sensory experience (like viewing a painting).

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