These ‘artworks’ might be from your home- like a framed work like a drawing or painting or print or it might be a sculptural figure OR you might choose a work of Public Art. Public Art is simply artworks that are displayed in public- like statues in public parks, or other artworks found in subway stations.

These are examples of sanctioned works of Public Art, and they are mostly contracted and agreed to by a property owner or a public interest, like the City of New York for instance, to be made and the artist is usually paid for their creation. These Public Art works typically include, murals and mosaics and sculptures and paintings found both inside and outside and in various materials, sizes and styles. Existing Public Art projects usually represent a winning entry in a competitive contest that is judged by group consensus as to which design wins the commission. These project commissions are highly prized by artists and the competition is fierce so that many cutting edge, highly original works, within the dictum of Public Art, can be found.

Public Art can also include unsanctioned or ‘guerrilla’ artworks like some graffiti and some performed events both the kinds that are planned as well as some kinds of improvisational works.

All of these kinds of artworks can and are looked at through a critical assessment when enter the public ‘arena’ and that is our task-yours and mine. I’ll be asking you to speak from your experience of all your five senses as well as your thoughts- what you think.


To direct your thorough examination of an artwork, I’d like you to follow this form and use your words to look and think about the work.

Facts- The facts or basic information include but are not limited to: The artist’s name, the title of the work, the year it was made, medium (materials it is made with), dimensions (its size), where it was viewed and when. If you are viewing art in a museum or many galleries you may find most of this information on a little plaque on the wall and near the work. For other times collect all available information and add to it your further research about the work or the artist.

Description- I’d like you to give me a detailed description of the appearance of the artwork and should include surrounding events when you saw the work. Be like a detective looking for clues in the texture, line, color, imagery, composition, scale, physical context and effects on the immediate environment or the effects of the environment on the work. Include sounds and smells and how you feel. Include a photograph of the artwork you are writing about.

Research- In this part of the essay form I’d like you research and give credit for the information about the artwork or the artist which informs your analysis. This may include museum or galley text materials or internet or library research on the artist’ s biography any history or symbolism research which you’ve found about the work. It is very important that you add footnotes at the end of each entry telling about what you’ve learned/how it shaped your interpretation. Giving credit to your sources by footnotes is everyone’s responsibility and a common part of any research document. Plagiarism is a violation of Academic Integrity Policy.

Analysis and interpretation- Gathering the facts and your thorough description will give you a growing list of tools to approach your interpretation. Keep in mind this question as you take apart and analyze what you see: What could anyone and/or everyone understand from looking at this work? (If and only if you must, you can also tell me what it reminds you of. Please do not use an artist’s statement as your interpretation. Ironically, sometimes artists know less about their own work than others who view it.) Be independent minded here.