The Visual Arts Education and Outreach program at the University of Chicago Graham School is based on the (justifiable) conviction that an arts education may be most beneficial in understanding one’s own culture, other cultures and by extension self-understanding, and the ability to think creatively by using radically imaginative ideas in diverse fields. 

Building on the success of our How to View Art classes and new in autumn 2019, the Graham School is establishing the Visual Arts Education and Outreach program to further the University of Chicago’s commitment to rigorous education, community engagement, and open conversation. This program continues to provide rigorous education based on two ideas. First, the primary aim of this program’s foundational classes is to teach participants the skills of viewing art with the goal that they become skilled, independent art viewers, hence, empowering the learner. Second, meaningful interaction with art is based on consideration of the totality of the culture at the relevant time and place. For this reason, we consider political conditions, cultural features, socioeconomic facts, and others in our study of any piece of art. In addition, we consider formal elements such as color, texture, composition, and others.  

The new program extends the previous program in three ways. First, the target audience is greatly expanded. The program will continue to serve Graham School students loyally but will also reach beyond the Graham School to our college students, the University community at large, civic leaders, and underserved populations (with an emphasis on school children). The second way in which the program is extended relates to its offerings. While the How to View Art series is at the heart of the program, it is also recognized that, for some audiences, it is not feasible to interact in such an intense fashion. The offerings of the new program are varied to suit the needs and the availability of the different participants. Finally, the program is committed to exposing our participants to some of the best art in the world, even if it is outside of Chicago city limits. Beginning in autumn 2019, we will offer opportunities to embark on art trips that will provide participants with deep insight into some of the most meaningful artworks in the world and some of the most important art movements globally.

We hope for continued engagement from our longtime students and to introduce ourselves to new art enthusiasts in the making!