NOTE: This forum is set up as “Post First,” meaning that you will not be able to see anyone else’s thread until you have completed your own contribution. Once you have created your thread and posted your object description, upon refreshing the page you will be able to see what other people have contributed so you can submit the required replies.

The challenge of the first part of this assignment is to translate what you see into words that would allow a reader to recognize your chosen artwork from among other similar ones without including any analysis, interpretation, or “reading” of the image that might be influenced by prior knowledge or your thought process. This is especially difficult given the human instinct to instantly identify and “read” visual information for clues on how to react or what to think about it, so for this assignment you must be proactive in limiting your thought process to only a verbal translation of the available visual material. Completing this assignment will establish a baseline record of your ability to verbally describe a work of visual art before we engage in-depth with the learning materials in the rest of the course.

  • Be sure to review all available instructional materials before completing this assignment to get a sense of the kinds of terminology you could use to formulate your visual description.
  • Navigate to the “Shohaku Art Museum, Silk Collection Gallery” partner page on Google Arts & Culture online and browse the works of art represented there:
  • Select one work of art that you find visually compelling and devote 5 to 10 minutes to looking at it slowly and carefully. Make full use of Google’s Zoom-in feature and feel free to search for additional views of this same artwork on the open web. The goal of this step is to notice small details as well as become familiar with the overall visual design of the work.
    • Use what you learned from the available instructional materials to build a visually inventory of observations and details. For example, you should note the medium (material) and overall shape and orientation, whether there are figures and what poses or positions they occupy, etc. Jot dot some bullet point observations for yourself and begin to organize your visual evidence in the following order:
      • “Large” details such as medium, shape, and orientation come first. (What is the object and what is its shape and overall arrangement?)
      • “Medium” details such as number of represented figures, their gender, pose, and grouping, come next.
      • “Small” details such as clothing, associated objects, background setting, or other such evidence are mentioned last.


Draft a 1-2 paragraph visual description of your chosen artwork and post it as a new thread in the relevant Discussion.

  • Your initial description should not interpret the work! Do not “read” emotions, motives, or anything that is not immediately obvious to another observer’s sense of vision.
  • The challenge of this assignment is to translate what you see into words that would allow a reader to recognize your chosen artwork from among other similar ones yet which do not attempt to convince that reader of any deeper understanding or idea about the work.
  • Thread Title = Your Full Name – “Artwork Title” Baseline Description

Posts are graded on a “Pass/Fail” system, as follows:

  • Excellent/ Exceptional. Insightful commentary demonstrates deep and careful consideration of the topic at hand.
  • Good. Attentive commentary demonstrates engagement with the topic at hand.
  • Insufficient. Minimal or overly superficial commentary does not clearly demonstrate learning or significant engagement with the topic at hand.


Don’t worry about your original analysis for this part of the assignment!

Review your classmates’ description posts and select one that seems to describe a DIFFERENT ARTWORK than your initial choice.

  • STEP 1: Use your classmate’s description to imagine what the artwork looks like and compose a speculative two- to three-paragraph ANALYSIS or READING of it. It will be very important that you DO NOT go looking for their artwork choice but rely ONLY on their verbal description of it to imagine a reading of it!
  • STEP 2: AFTER drafting your speculative analysis: navigate to the “Shohaku Art Museum, Silk Collection Gallery” partner page and attempt to identify which object they chose
    • Reflect on the degree of difficulty in identifying their chosen work and take note of any specific details from their description that made it easier or harder to recognize it. The second part of your reply should offer an explanation about how your classmate’s description matched or diverged from the artwork, citing specific examples from their text and the work to support this explanation, in at least a full paragraph.