The virtual visiting scholar talk, Art: Taking It Personally by American art critic, Professor Emeritus Dr. Terry Barrett is being hosted by the Art + Design Department on Tuesday, January 26 at 11:00am. Students and the public are asked to register in advance. If you are interested in attending, we encourage you to register soon; space is limited.
Barrett’s scholarship centers upon the processes of critiques, the possible approaches to art interpretation, and the understanding of contemporary art. His many books and essays have made significant contributions to the field of art—and how to understand it more completely. Barrett’s beliefs surrounding the interpretation of art can be presented as helpful steps, providing organization to the nuanced process. This nature of teaching is beneficial for students learning how to critique. “For our students at all levels—graduates in the MFA program who are learning to teach, undergraduates in the beginning through advanced levels—this is a really extraordinary opportunity to unpack and demystify interpretation and how the critique process works,” explains Vonda Yarberry, Department Head of Art + Design.
Starting from an early age, the process of creating art has always been present in Barrett’s life. As a young boy he would regularly make his own copies of pictures from coloring books. Later in life, Barrett spent two years living in a monastery in Ireland, where he continued to create, using gouache, India ink, and paper to make collages. Upon leaving the monastery, Barrett completed a degree in art and philosophy at Webster College and began teaching high school art in St. Louis. Barrett went on to Ohio State University where he earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the concentrations of photography, art, art criticism, and aesthetics. After 40-years at Ohio State, Barrett retired as Professor Emeritus in 2009 and then accepted a final position at the University of Texas. He continues to make art.
Not only does Barrett provide scholarly insight on the interpretation of art, but also how to respond to it. In his book, Interpreting Art: Reflecting, Wondering, and Responding, he provides an outline of five elements to consider when coming to terms with meaning. Barrett takes inspiration from Arthur Danto, a contemporary philosopher and critic, in constructing these elements, that art: is about something, involves someone’s perspective, projects this perspective rhetorically, needs interpretation, and requires historical context both from the work and the interpretation.
These meaning-making thought processes are not only helpful to students, but also to any and all participating in the act of creating. Through attending this webinar, “students will gain more confidence in voicing and developing their own interpretative responses to works in and out of the classroom,” shares Vonda, “and in turn, they will also be able to better process feedback […and can] use this experience to better integrate, explore, and develop meaning in their own work.”
To learn more about Dr. Terry Barrett’s insight on critique, check out his books: Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary, Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images, Interpreting Art: Reflecting, Wondering, and Responding, and Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art.