Last week, I talked to fifty-eight first graders about light art. I told them that there are two things you can always ask when you encounter an artwork.
What was the artist observing (the subject)?
And what did the artist use to mark it down (the tool)?
I showed them artwork by Noble & Webster, Anthony McCall, Karen Gunderson, and Larry Bell to get them in the mindset. I love the photos that In The Make took of Larry’s studio. As well as the twirling text and clicking noises on his website! It is refreshingly nostalgic and provides a clear overview (especially for a book report).
Then I gave the first graders a quiz… “Is It Light?” Their competitive spirit made this really exciting. Given two artworks, they had to determine which artwork was made with light or when the artist was observing light and marking it down with another tool. Is light the subject or the tool? I left the debate about it being both for the next lecture. And I assured them that if they got it wrong, it was because it was good art. Below are the artworks in the quiz as well as a few extra pairs that are more challenging.