Philosophy 1361, Philosophy and the Arts

Professor Cynthia A. Freeland

Art Log Information Page

See also the main syllabus page for this course:

Each student should keep an art log of regular entries. The format is flexible but you should end up with six entries in your art log, with at least one page per entry (and no more than five pages per entry). The art log may be kept in a loose-leaf or any other sort of other notebook; it may be typed or hand-written (legibly!). Art log entries can be done in any order the student chooses, although certain topics will be recommended (in class) to fit with certain units of the course.

Each entry is worth three points maximum. Thoughtful and excellent entries earn three points, a good entry earns two points, an an ordinary entry earns one point; careless or too-short entries earn zero points. (The entries will NOT be graded on the basis of spelling or grammar, although your professor/TA will probably make obsessive-compulsive corrections.) Total of 18 points or 18% of the final grade in this class. You are expected to write on a different topic each time, and you may NOT write on the same topic more than TWICE. Most of the art logs will ge graded by the teaching assistant for the course.

ALWAYS identify the topic # of the topic your art log entry concerns! One new entry is due in the log on each due date. Note: Read that carefully; it means that you only have to write on ONE TOPIC for each assigned due date! No late art logs will be accepted. Students are responsible for keeping track of the due dates (which are listed on the Schedule, and for getting their art logs in on time at the START of class. Turning them in at the end of the class is NOT ON TIME!

Topics for Art Logs (check back, more might be added)

(Unit Recommendations are shown in red, just FYI. Those are topics that would go especially well with various units of our reading.)

Remember, write on ONE TOPIC for each assigned due date (you don't need to write on all of them for each due date!). Write the number of the topic (from below) in front of your entry.

  1. Look carefully at two artworks on the UH campus and write a description of them. Be as detailed as you possibly can. Write at least one full paragraph of description on each work. (Imagine you are an art critic reviewing this work for an international magazine, and that you must convey what it looks like to readers abroad who cannot visit Houston.) Try to imagine how the artist made the work and how long it took. How much do you think it cost to make it? Could you make it? Finally, add some speculation about the meaning of the work. Be sure to consider where the work is located and how, if at all, it is related to its environment. Which work do you prefer, and why?
  2. Do the same as the project listed just above for a piece of public art in Houston or another city. "Public art" here can include statues and monuments as well as sculptures, light displays, etc. Try to find out about the artist who did the work. Be sure to comment on how the work is related to its particular setting, and how successful it seems there.

  3. Visit an artist's studio for at least an hour while they are working; or, watch a musician, chorus, dancer or actor as they rehearse. What did you learn that was new to you? Describe, explain, comment.
  4. This option is only available to students with a declared major in one of the arts. (Sorry, but there are too many to fit in otherwise.) Provide an in-class demonstration of your own art. No more than 10 minutes; must be cleared in advance with the professor. Schedule space are limited, so speak up soon or you will not have this opportunity.
  5. Write a review of an exhibition of visual art; imagine that your review will be published in the Houston Press or other suitable publication. Read some other art reviews first to see how they are generally done. Your review should "look official" with a title, by-line, the information on the show's dates, and so on.
  6. Write a review of a performing arts event (concert, dance, play, etc.). It would be good if you could find a published review of the same event, include it in your log, and compare the reviewer's attitudes to your own attitudes.
  7. Unit 4.Attend an opening at a commercial art gallery and comment on what you observed. It would be best if you can attend the Colquitt Street "gallery row" openings and then attend one other gallery opening as well, for contrast. See the listings in the weekly Houston Press for times/places of gallery openings. Almost all gallery openings are free and open to the public, and you can dress in any way you choose. Say you are a student studying art in class and no one will expect you to buy anything!
  8. Unit 4.Visit an art museum and reflect on the way it is arranged: that is, describe and reflect upon the actual physical layout, size of galleries and other rooms, the spacing of the exhibitions, placement of signs and banners or other relevant information, etc.
  9. Recommended: Visit the exhibit Tabletki: Russian Icons from the Menil Collection; it's free and closes soon (January 25th) in our semester.

  10. Describe an artwork that you have seen personally by an artist from an earlier (pre-20th) century. Do some research on this artist and write it up so as to try to highlight what seems special to you about her/him and about this work. Explain why you chose this work by this artist to reflect upon. What does the work do for you or say to you? Do you think your experience of it is different or the same as people would have had in the past, at the time it was created? (NOTE: DO NOT PLAGIARIZE! Cite the sources you have consulted, and indicate when you are quoting from them.) Unit 2.
  11. Examine some form of non-western art and comment on its cultural significance. Good options: World of Dance video series is available at Audio Video Plus (on Waugh); Menil Collection has a lot of African art (free), the Museum of Fine Arts has a collection of African Gold. Other options will be recommended in class.Unit 3.

  12. Write on any art-related topic that you are interested in.
  13. Discuss something from the mass media and decide whether it counts as "art." It could be a popular film, TV show, videogame, etc. Why or why not? Does this make any difference? Unit 4.
  14. Discuss some sort of performance or activity not usually classified as art (sports, karate, driving, eating, shopping, etc.), and make an argument that it should count as art. Why? Can someone have an aesthetic experience of it? How/when/why? Then scrutinize your own argument to see whether it is convincing.
  15. Choose any artwork you have a strong "gut" reaction to, and describe your reaction; then assess it or reflect on whether your initial reaction is really justified. It might be good to choose something you hate.Unit 1
  16. Report on some form of art with political significance; what is its role? Is this a limitation? If you disagree with the politics, can you still like the art?
  17. Look carefully through an entire issue of two contemporary art magazines; be sure to go cover to cover. Describe and assess what you found in the magazine. It would be best if you could compare two magazines for the same month. Good options are Art News, Artforum, Flash Art, and Art in America, but others are also acceptable. These may be found at most bookstores and museum shops, and they are available for browsing in our Art and Architecture Library. You can also pick up a copy of the magazine ArtLies, which reviews Texas art, free at most galleries. . Unit 4.
  18. Unit Three or Five Discuss the way gender or race affects your interpretation of a specific example of art. This might mean either your own gender or race, or that of the artist or community. Do you think that people of different genders or races might have legitimate differences in their responses to this work? Is it OK for an artist to make works that only speak to people of their own gender or race? Explain.
  19. Unit FiveWatch a movie version of a famous artist's life and discuss how the notion of "artistic genius" is represented in the movie. Recent and recommended: Girl with a Pearl Earring (about Vermeer; see for the official website. For more about it, see the Artcyclopedia website which provides more information and links about the artist it concerns, Johannes Vermeer, at Artcyclopedia. And here's a link to the image the movie and book were all about! Or consider older films like Pollock, Amadaeus, Immortal Beloved, or Artemesia. (Yes, musician movies are OK too, and pop or jazz are also OK.)

Return to Course Syllabus Page

January 14, 2008