Aesthetics Lesson 1: Introduction

What Does Aesthetic Mean?
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Students at The Andy Warhol Museum exploring aesthetic responses to art

This lesson explores three definitions for the word aesthetic and introduces this area of critical thinking to students. Through writing activities students understand how aesthetics relates to their own life and to art, architecture and design. Students follow a progression of thought and investigate their own experiences while building vocabulary.

Suggested Time Frame:

Activity: 20 minutes
PowerPoint, Part 1: 20 minutes
Activity: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1-1 ½ hours 

Objectives:

  • Students compare and contrast definitions for words frequently used in aesthetic dialogues
  • Students decide upon best definitions for use in class dialogues to create a common understanding and language
  • Students view a PowerPoint presentation introducing three definitions for aesthetics and how they apply to everyday life
  • Students explore their own personal aesthetic through discussion and writing
 
Procedure
A woman making aesthetic choices while shopping
A woman making aesthetic choices while shopping

Materials:


Vocabulary Cards PencilsDigital Projector



Warm-up Activity:

  1. Print out the vocabulary cards, one for each student. There should be at least two of each vocabulary word printed.
  2. Students write their own definition for the word.
  3. Students then work in groups with the person(s) who has the same word, sharing their definitions and then creating a group definition.
  4. Review the class definitions. Draw attention to how students use the same word differently and how meanings are nuanced through group discussion.
  5.  
 
Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1970, Published Edition, screen print on paper, 36 x 36 in., ©AWF 
Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1970, Published Edition, screen print on paper, 36 x 36 in., ©AWF 

PowerPoint, Part 1: 

Introduce the Three Definitions for Aesthetic using the PowerPoint presentation:

  • A particular taste for, or approach to, what is pleasing to the senses—especially sight.
  • A branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art and beauty.
  • A particular theory or conception of beauty or art.
 
How do we perceive things?
How do we perceive things?

Review: 

Aesthesia (n.): the ability to feel or perceive (awake and feeling). To look at an artwork aesthetically is to perceive it with the senses—to be awake and to be aware of perceptions and feelings.

Anesthesia (n.): the inability to feel or perceive (asleep and non-feeling).

Aesthetic: when used as a noun means “that which appeals to the senses.” When used as an adjective, it describes anything that tends to enliven or invigorate or wake one up. Someone’s aesthetic (noun) has to do with his or her artistic judgment. Example: A designer with a rich aesthetic decorated the room in red velvet and gold furniture.

Shopping for cereal or shoes may involve personal aesthetic choices
Shopping for cereal or shoes may involve personal aesthetic choices

Class Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways you use your senses and perceptions to make decisions?
  2. How do our decisions about what to buy, wear, or use, also impact our culture?
  3. How would you describe the aesthetic quality of your bedroom compared to that of your classroom at school? Think about all of the senses and the perceived qualities in the two rooms, such as: lighting, size, furniture (how that furniture functions), and the way you feel in each space.
 
Describing a space that we have helped to design reveals our own aesthetic choices
Describing a space that we have helped to design reveals our own aesthetic choices

Homework Activity

Draw a diagram or photograph a room in your house, a closet, or your locker. Describe it using detailed writing. Answer the following objective and subjective questions:

  1. When was this room/space created?
  2. Who used the room/space and for what purpose?
  3. What is in the room?
  4. What colors are in the room?
  5. What patterns or shapes are in the room?
  6. How is the room lit?
  7. What kind of feeling/mood do you have in this room?
  8. How does the room reflect aspects of your personality?
 
Assessment

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Aesthetics
Communication
Media and Related Items
Presentation
Aesthetics Powerpoint 1: Introduction and Meaning
Aesthetics Powerpoint 1: Introduction and Meaning