District-Wide Art Appreciation Assignment

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Step 1: Individual Research Paper (15 points)

Write a paper on the art object you chose at the DMA. The purpose of your paper is to inform the reader about your work of art, about the artist if known, about the culture and historical time in which it was produced, and about what you believe the object was used for or what the artist intended her viewers to think or feel when they viewed the work.

Your format can be as simple as 5 paragraphs:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

In this paragraph, tell the reader what artwork you have selected, and refer them to the image in your Appendix. First, tell us the artist, title, date, size of the work. Then tell them what it was that drew you to this piece – why did it interest you? Then tell the reader what you will be discussing in the paper by writing a thesis statement that goes something like this: “In this paper, I will describe the work and provide context about the artist, the culture, and the context of the historical period when it was produced.”

Paragraph 2: Description of the Artwork

In this paragraph, fully and completely describe the work you’ve chosen. Then start to describe: What is the subject of the work? What materials is it made from? What methods did the artist likely use to produce the work of art? How big or small is it? What colors are represented? Are there lines? Shapes? Does the work feature symmetry, balance, asymmetry, organic shapes, geometric shapes? Is it representational, non-representational, or abstract? What about light and shadows? Finally, what did you notice first? What did you notice after looking at the work for a long time? Has the artist utilized focal points to draw your eye? 

These questions can serve as starting points, but you can also refer to your textbook between pages 178 and 185.

Paragraph 3: Information about the Artist, the Culture, the Historical Context, the Object’s Use

The content of this paragraph will highly vary based upon the work you’ve chosen and might include religious, historical, and biographical analyses. If your artist is known, tell your reader something about them – maybe when they lived, where they lived and worked, some work they’re known for, interesting or important details of their lives. As a reader, I don’t care what their birthday is or the day they died, but I’m generally interested in the years they lived, where they lived and worked, and those kinds of details. For a short paper like this, you have to be selective about the information you’ll present. A great starting point is the information card on the wall, which you can use as one of your sources.

You will use citations in this paragraph whenever you paraphrase a source, use information you had to look up, or use a quote. The correct way to do this is like this: Here I’m using my own words to tell you what Boyer said in his article (Boyer p445). Notice where I put the period. If I quote Boyer, I write it like this: Boyer writes, “Van Gogh probably did not commit suicide according to new research” (Boyer, p568). Notice where the quotation marks and the period goes.

Paragraph 4: Analysis

This paragraph can serve many purposes depending on your image. Let’s say you chose a portrait of someone. How has the artist portrayed the person? What are they wearing? What objects are depicted with them? You may have put these details in your description. In this paragraph, you speculate as to why the artist chose those objects and that costume. This analysis will probably include information about your object’s culture and historical time period. How was the object meant to be viewed? Used? What artistic choices did the artist make to help fulfill this use? Are the subject matter or the materials choice related to the culture or to the historical period? How?

You will probably also use sources in this paragraph too.

Paragraph 5: Evaluation and Conclusion

This paragraph is the place where you will tell your reader about your reaction to the work of art. Was the artist successful in portraying what he or she wanted you to see? (The words “successful” / “unsuccessful” or “effective” / “ineffective” would probably appear in this paragraph.) Did the work speak to you personally? What elements of it called to you? Did you enjoy the artwork visually? Intellectually? Have your initial assumptions about it changed through your research? And finally, your conclusion should reiterate your thesis from the first paragraph and show the reader how you have supported it.

Style Guidelines for Writing the Paper:

· Length: 2 full pages, with some text on a third page

· Font Size:  12 point

· Use a header for your name, title of paper, and course name/number

· A minimum of 3 MLA parenthetical citations must appear in the body of your paper

· Create a Works Cited page as a separate final page (doesn’t count towards the two page minimum)

· Attach an image of your artwork after the Works Cited page

· Your total paper will have at least 5 pages:

  • 3 pages of text (2 full pages, 1 partial page)
  • Works Cited
  • Appendix A (your image)

If you have a question how to do a citation in your text or on the Works cited page, go to the MLS Style Guide at PurdueOWL:

Source ideas:

Your textbook would be 1 great source! Almost all objects at the Dallas Museum of Art have photos and brief descriptions online. Google “dallas museum of art <title of the work>” and you should find a great photograph and a paragraph. You can also use this search page:

Information from these websites is credible and can be trusted:

Rules of Thumb for College Writing

1. Use standard written English, avoiding too conversational a tone and without using slang or common idioms.

2. This paper is a personal analytical paper, so use “I” when you’re writing about your opinion.

3. The paper due date is timed within the semester so that we will have covered all the painting vocabulary and general visual art concepts before you write. Use the correct words and concepts in your paper.

4. Check spelling, grammar, punctuation. Then check again. Proofread. Read aloud. Every college paper you hand in should represent your very best work at the time. Errors such as these make your work look hurried and/or sloppy.

The image is as follows.

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