A museum can be a lab for lingering. When students from UNLV, College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College visit UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum to fulfill art assignments, it’s a chance to gaze, not glance, at art.
Now UNLV English 101 students are being challenged to look at works and read slowly.
“I’ve never been to a gallery like this before,” said Anayeli De Leon, a member of Lorinda Toledo‘s English 101 class on a recent tour of “Recent Acquisitions.” Students are assigned to select a work as a prompt for an analytical essay, which introduces them to treat images like text, to find signifiers, or simply respond at seeing brushstrokes in person. Some realize how art can be more than a quick visual reference, a trap we all fall into when bombarded by images, especially in Las Vegas.
It’s not just an exercise for the collegiate viewer. On one Saturday afternoon a diligent 6th grader, who went by the name of Tristan, may have outdid his older colleagues. He was also assigned to select an art piece and write a reflection. The young art-goer selected Justin Favela’s Estardas to study and took his time looking at the cardboard casino sign. First he stared at it up-close, then stood far away, and came back to the piece to look at angles and study the edges. Then he took photos and video to “read” later. “It was cool,” said the young art gazer.
By Ed Fuentes, an UNLV MFA Fine Art candidate who produces Paint This Desert, a regional arts blog.