Graham School News

Summer Art Celebration at Smart Museum Inaugurates New Graham School Program in the Visual Arts

Philip Baker
Group of people viewing artwork at the UChicago Smart Museum of Art

On September 12 at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, the Graham School launched its new Visual Arts Education and Outreach program, giving attendees an opportunity to tour the Tara Donovan Exhibit while enjoying a reception of cocktails and food.

Building on the great success of Ariela Lazar’s How to View Art classes, the new program seeks to further UChicago’s commitment to visual arts education that meets the standards of the University and empowers participants to become skilled and independent viewers of art. “The How to View Art classes, which began three years ago, provide participants with tools they can use themselves in order to interact with art” said Dr. Lazar. “We want to grow the impact of the program and, for that reason, we need more resources and support. Tonight, we are not only celebrating another successful academic year and looking forward to the next, we are also celebrating the launch of this program—the Visual Arts Education and Outreach program at the Graham School—which will provide us with more resources and manpower.”

The new program’s target audience will maintain the Graham School student corps but will expand to include our College students, underserved populations, and professional and private groups. Also new will be the program’s expansion beyond Chicago to provide programs nationally and internationally.


“With Dr. Lazar, we’d look at a painting for 45 minutes and feel like we were just getting started. It’s totally changed my perspective on art and she’s really one of the best instructors I’ve ever come across.” —Ginger Archer


Among the many attendees at the Summer Art Celebration were many past and current students of the How to View Art classes eager to learn more about what the new program might have to offer. Ginger Archer, who together with her husband plans to take part in the Art Trip to the Barnes Foundation this autumn, said that before enrolling in Dr. Lazar’s classes she had taken courses in art history and traveled to museums in Europe. 

“Before taking Dr. Lazar’s course, I might’ve looked at a painting for 5–10 minutes before moving on,” Ginger says. “With Dr. Lazar, we’d look at a painting for 45 minutes and feel like we were just getting started. It’s totally changed my perspective on art and she’s really one of the best instructors I’ve ever come across.”

Alan Kravets, who by his own admission has spent over 80 hours studying art with Dr. Lazar, also mentions the courses in art history he had taken prior to the How to View Art classes.

“But this was a different and fascinating approach,” he said. “Dr. Lazar gave me the tools to look at art. Now I can look at art and I’m not afraid and I can go through my mind using those tools and discovering which apply. Dr Lazar is a fabulous teacher, a master teacher.”