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“Extended Looking” – Close Observation of a Text

In our recent classroom visits, we talked about how art can document history, place, the evolution of culture or community. New York City, as with many US cities, is in constant flux (evolving infrastructure, construction, gentrification). In NYC, artist Hedy Pagremanski, is closely observing the changes in her community, documenting, communicating those details in her work.


Extended Looking Exercise: If you’ll remember over the summer we did an “extended looking” exercise with former PAGES partner Brandi Lust, where we first looked at a minor detail in an image, gathered details, then zoomed out, and repeatedly gathered details. We saved discussion on meaning and analysis until the very end, allowing ourselves time to look and think. This exercise was borrowed and adapted from Harvard’s Project Zero, research in arts integration, and “visible thinking” in teaching and learning.

Use the above image by artist Hedy Pagremanski, from the recent NYTimes article:Т An Artist Is Chronicling a Disappearing New York City, One Painting at a Time,Т as a platform for your “extended looking” (remember, extended looking is just close, deep observation of a text). You can zoom in, and slowly zoom out, allowing students to piece together the work, detail by detail, or you can look at the entirety of the painting. Either way, “extended looking” is great training for close observation of text, point of view, framing of an argument or stance – critical thinking. You can start with an “extended looking” exercise and branch off into other related topics within the curriculum, or like some teachers, you can do an extended looking exercise weekly or monthly to keep those observation and critical thinking skills sharp.

If you need a refresher on how to do this exercise, let us know!


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