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Exploring Our Visual and Material World1

My research/final Capstone for the University of Florida’s Master of Arts in Art Education has included the study and investigation into Visual and Material Culture and how through its study and the making of art related to the topic people can dig deeper to understand our everyday visual experiences. My topic of research seeks to create global connections, understanding, tolerance, perspective, and empowerment in our students and those who live in our communities in order to better navigate our consumer driven world and achieve the above attributes. The reason I chose art as a field of study and practice is because I have believed since I was very young that one cannot learn unless they understand what they are studying. Years of rote and memorization style learning never really got to the crux of the matter, and always left me feeling unknowledgeable. When art was presented to me as a way of seeing and understanding, my world changed. 2

Ellen S. Goldberg




_________________ Our Vulnerability


Looking Carefully




A Different Point of View


Culture of Youth




Suggested Readings 28 References/Sources


Author Bio

33 3



VULNERABILITY Artmaking and learning how

to see and observe are very crucial to understanding the world we live in. This learning can provide a platform from which to view and form opinions. Young people are particularly influenced by the visual culture that they are immersed in daily. If adults and educators don’t help them facilitate what they are viewing we will be perpetuating a culutre of intolerance, and easily influenced and ignorant citizens in our democracy.


Creating, synthesizing, and delving deeper are all techniques and ways to explore our culture so that we can experience and understand it in an intelligent way. Visual and material culture which transcends as our consumer culture, so easilly becomes a part of our lives without truly understanding what is behind it. Decisions may actually be made for us, without our knowledge that there may be other alternatives. Because of this the investigation of our culture through artmaking and viewing activities makes sense; to view our very visual world and make meaning of it through the very media in which it is presented to us.

Y This is a global challenge. We are all connected to each other whether we like it or not.

©2013 Ellen Goldberg, “Corporate Greed of Biblical Proportions”, Photoshop 5

Do you know what you a

©2013 Ellen S. Goldberg, “Airing Our Dirty Laundry”, Photoshop 6

are looking at? If one doesn’t understand what

surrounds them, such as media and all of the other very visual aspects of our culture, it can be difficult to even understand one’s own identity and motivations. When the understanding takes place of where a person belongs in the world then he or she can become a more empowered citizen who has respect and tolerance for others and able to make more informed decisions.



What is visual and material culture? Visual and material culture is everything you see and interact with on a

a daily basis and includes but is not limited to: TV, the Internet, magazines, film, billboards, clothing, shopping malls, theme parks, architecture, music, tattoos, skateboards, backpacks, graffiti, money, window display, shoes, and cartoons. Everyday we are exposed to thousands of images. Many of these images are in the form of advertising. Our lifestyle and belief system is affected by the viewing of these images and our young people are especially vulnerable to the hidden messages that exiist in vsual and material culture.

View my entire website Exploring Visual and Material Culture at Watch the first episode of Merchants of Cool – Hunting for Cool - YouTube video, February 27, 2001 at Find my activity Hunting for Cool at loads/1/0/4/7/10479140/exploring_visual_and_material_culture_activity_i-ca.pdf See my questionnaire for use following Merchants of Cool - Hunting for Cool video at exploring_visual_and_material_culture-questionnaire_c.pdf See my Pinterest Board Visual and Material Culture at 8

“Ad for Anti-Smoking” Facilitas Photography

“Bilbao, Guggenheim” Museum in Spain Frank Gehry

“Graffiti Under the Bridge” Artist Unknown Graffiti


How does our visual culture experience shape who we are? According to Ballengee-Morris and Stuhr (2001), visual and material culture

is all designed visual images and artifacts that represent us. Visual culture is social production (Freedman, 2003). We need to become perceptive and discriminate consumers in our democracy in order to make better choices. Are our identities formed by the visual and material culture that surrounds us? Is someone making choices for us? A self-portrait can reveal our outside influences, values, and family background, interests, and more.

See my Self-Portrait Activity at See more images on my Pinterest Board Portraits


Bernard Pras “Conjur Woman”


2012, Dimensional collage of celebrity with objects stacked on top of photo

“Across Her Face” Margo Humphrey 1991, Color lithograph and collage

“Mariah Carey” Jason Mercier Portrait collage made with the discarded objects of a celebrity.

“Collage of Steve Jobs” Charis Tsevis Graphic portrait including an image of every product Jobs worked on.

“Portrait of a Woman” Cut paper collage

“Conjur Woman Mansa Mousa” Unknown Artist 2012, Collage

The images above will provide inspiration for the Self-Portrait Activity.


How do we interact with visual culture? What do logos do

for designers and corporations? How many logos do you see around you right now? Do you think logos have power and what do you think about them? Are you a spectator or someone who analyzes something when you see it? Mark Twain thought it was impossible to really understand a picture without a label. What do you think about this?


Five Key Successes of Logo Design: Simplicity, Recognition, Uniqueness, Tone and Transferability

See my Pinterest Board Interactions with Visual Culture at

See my activity Visual and Material Culture Survey at material_culture_activity_iii-c.pdf

To access my Survey for Visual and Material Culture see material_cultlure_survey-c.pdf

See my Pinterest Board Visual and Material Culture Survey Images at images-for-visual-and-material-culture-survey/

See my activity for Logo Looking and Ad Analysis at activity_iv-c.pdf

“Think Big” Yasar Ashraf 2010 Ad

“Barrel Monster” Joseph Carnevale Sculpture made from traffic barrels

“Untitled” Keith Haring 1982, Painting


How does advertising manipulate? When you look at an ad ask yourself these questions: • Are you familiar with the product/imagery or service this ad is trying to sell? • Who is being targeted with this ad? • What mediums or methods were used to produce this ad? • What message is this ad trying to convey? • Does this ad have any words? If you took the words away would its meaning change? • Consider how your life would change if you used the ad’s product or service.

To view entire images on the next page see my Pinterest Board Advertising and Manipulation at 14

How do we consume? Advertising in its many forms exists to encourage

consumption. We may not know very much about what is behind the products we purchase. We are bombarded daily by the visual culture which advertises lifestyle and material goods we are told we need. We may not be stopping to think before we consume.

“Japanese Shoe Ad” Onitsuka Products Photo of shoe representing Tokyo Airport

“Ad for Post Office” Photography

“Ad for Landrover” Photography They make cell phones too.

“Ad for Visa” Agency Chiat Day, Will Hammond, Director Photography


How do we tell the difference between what is real, or not? When we view an ad on telelvision, the Internet, or in a magazine we wonder if what we are seeing is the real thing. With the use of computer software manipulation programs it is hard to tell.

The photos on the opposite page represent both photo manipulated and handmade images using fruits, vegetables, and other themes. The same techniques are used in the photo retouching of models for ads. The final product may not even resemble the original when these techniques are applied. View a time lapse video of a photo retouch, The Deceptive World of Photo Retouching at See my activity The Deceptive World of Photo Manipulation at To see full images of resources on the next page in one place go to my Pinterest Board The Deceptive World of Photo Manipulation at See my activity Changing Meaning Through Appropriation at


“Overstepping” Jullie Rrap Photography Volume 8

“I am more 2” Manpower Experis

“Cucumber Shoes” Carving

“Sanitation of Ammunition Depot at Taji” 2003, Photo Propaganda Iraq War

“Banana Alteration” Photography

“Truth: You Fade Away with Every Puff” Photography

“Apple with Orange” Photography

“Ad for Toy” Pastorini Toy Store Photography

“Dog Roller “ 3M Photography

“Ad for Sojourner Family Peace Center” Photography


Use Culture Jamming for Change The images on the right are examples of Culture

Jamming. Culture Jamming is the remaking of commercially produced culture to reveal hidden meanings (Darts, 2004). The appropriation of brands and logos, billboard ads, commercials, etc. reconfigure advertisements and in effect “derail� the original message. Used to change public view Culture Jamming can help develop empowerment and perspective in individuals. Who decides what we will buy or what products to produce? And who decides how we should think? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. See my activity Culture Jamming for Change at

To see full images from the next page go to my Pinterest Board Introduction to Culture Jamming at 18

“Santa Billboard“

“Anti -Tobacco Billboard” Image and text altered billboard

“Graphic Design for Social Change” Adbusters Text altered logos

“Culture Jammed Esso Sign” Photo alteration of logo

“Car Ad-Damage” Text alteration of ad

“Stop War” Photo alteration of sign shadow 19


Fine Art or Visual Culture?

“Recycled Cans and Car” Artist unknown An old car is covered with empty cans.

“T-Shirt Art” Mzili 2011, Second-hand clothes from America are Kenya’s 7th largest import. Mzili uses old shirts Americans throw away to create his artworks. “Kennebunkport Green Dress” Cory W. Peeke 2004, Mixed media, 8”x 8”, color construction, Volume 1

“Dragon” Ryab Doyle & Teddy Lo 2011, 90 feet long mobile fire-breathing dragon created for World Maker Faire with lounge seating for 20.

“Toy Assemblage” Freya Jobbins Jobbins work explores the relationship between consumerist fetishism and recycling culture within the visual arts.

See my activity Fine Art or Visual Culture? at

To view above images in one place go to my Pinterest Board Fine Art or Visual Culture ? at /is-it-fine-art-or-visual-culture/


A Different Point of View: Looking at Advertising in Other Parts of the World Opposite

are ads representing products and messages used in different countries and societies. Like Western society other cultures are subjected to media manipulation and hidden meanings in advertising. These ads also encourage consumers to buy. But they are aimed at the beliefs and values of those who live in these other countries. Looking critically at the advertising of diverse cultures it is important to appreciate that we may have more in common with others across the globe than we think, especially when it comes to being manipulated.

To see the full images on the next page go to my Pinterest Board A Different Point of View 22

“Filet-O-Fish” Saudi Arabian Ad for McDonald’s

“Ad for Beauty Contest for Eyes” Saudi Arabia

“Stop Smoking Campaign” Russian Ad

“Kalyan Silks” Yasar Ashraf 2010, Ad for Silks

“Extracting Only What’s Good For You” Kyoepax Ad for Salmon Extract

“Pattex Glue” 2010, Egyptian Ad

“We Bring Beauty to Life” Yasar Ashraf 2010, Ad for energy savings

“Bonus Recharge” Cambodian Ad

“My Jihad Campaign” 2013, Positive PR for Muslim Community 23

What is the culture of our youth today?

Youth participates in a culture that is their own and includes music, cel phones, apps, backpacks, skateboards, film, TV, MTV, video games, theme parks, cartoons, t-shirts, the mall, sports, and athletic shoes, etc. How do they navigate this culture which is sometimes filled with violence? Do they need help unpacking the meaning of what they encounter each day?

“Runner with 54 Pairs of Shoes” Nicole Ambrose

“Maximum Sensation” Mounir Fatmi 2010, Photograph of Skateboards covered in Muslim Prayer Rugs

“Backpacks” Photograph of Backpacks Backpacks come in all colors, shapes, and designs

“Stack of CD Cases” Photograph

See my Pinterest Board Our Youth’s Culture to view above photos: our-youths-culture/


Gallery of Imagery The images on these two pages represent a wide array of visual culture, from posters, to mosaic, folk art, rugs, and junk art. To access these images and more examples go to my Pinterest Board Gallery of Visual Imagery at

“Memory Jug” Unknown Maker Mixed Materials


“Punjabi Rockers” Chila Burman 2013, Mixed Media

“Doe...dose...dos-i-do” Elisabeth Higgins O’ Connor 2006, Mixed Media

“Darkness” Murat Suyar 2009, Photomontage

“Mechanical Bug” Edouard Martinet, Mixed Media

“Fear Culture” Michele Pred Mixed Media

“Eyedazzler” Navaho 1885, Rug/Blanket,

“Mosaic” Nagesh Kamal, Mixed Mosaic

“Trash Tentacles” Lydia Sea 2012, Mixed Media

“Metalmorphosis” Brian Mock 2004, 5’ H Mixed Media

“Beautiful Edible Blooms” Cheryl Herrick 2010, Vegetable Rolls

“Pants” Erna Enansdottir, 2009, Textiles

“Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know” Panio Ventza Aid Poster


Scholarly Articles for Further Reading Amburgy, P. M., Keifer-Boyd, K., & Knight, W. B. (2003). Three approaches to teaching visual culture in K-12 school contexts. Art Education, 56(2), 44-51. Anderson, D., & Tavin, K. M. (2003). Teaching (popular) visual culture: Deconstructing Disney in the elementary art classroom. Art Education, 56 (3 ), 21-34. Ballengee-Morris, C., & Stuhr, P. L. (2001). Multicultural art and visual cultural education in a changing world. Art Education, 54(4), 6-12. Barker, K. (2010). Visual culture education: Critical pedagogy, identity formation and generative studio practice in art. Retrieved from http://scholarworks. viewcontent.cgi?article=100 Bastos, F. M. C. (2010). What does social justice art education look like? Art Educatiion, 63(5), 2-3. Burkhart, A. (2006). Object lessons: Thinking about material culture. Art Education, 59(2), 33-39, Chalmers, F. G. (2005). [Review of the book Teaching visual culture. Curriculum, aesthetics and the social life of art, by K. Freedman (2003)]. Studies in Art Education, 47(1), 83-86. Cubitt, S. (2002). [Review of the book Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture, by L. Cartwright & M. Sturken], Leonardo,(35)2, 211-212. Daiello, V., Hathaway, K., Rhoades, M., & Walker, S. (2006). Complicating visual culture. Studies in Art Education, 47(4), 308-325. Darts, D. (2004). Visual culture jam: Art, pedagogy, and creative resistance. Studies in Art Education, 45(4), 313-327 Duncum, P. (1999). A case for an art education of everyday aesthetic experiences. Studies


in Art Education, 40(4), 295-297. Duncum, P. (2004). Visual culture isn’t just visual: Multiliteracy, multimodality and meaning. Studies in Art Education, 45(3), 252. Duncum, P. (2009). Visual culture in art education circa 2009. Visual Arts Research, 35(1), 64-75. Duncum, P. (2003). Instructional resources: Visual culture in the classroom. Art Education, 56(2), 25-32. Efland, A. D. (2004). The entwined nature of the aesthetic: A discourse on visual culture. Studies in Art Education, 45(3), 234-236. Efland, A. D. (2005). Problems confronting visual culture. Art Education, 58(6), 35-40. Eisenhauer, J. F. (2006). Beyond bombardment: Subjectivity, visual culture and art education, Studies in Art Education, 47(2), 155-169. Fischman, G. E. (2001). Reflections about images, visual culture and educational research. Educational Researcher, 30(8), 28-33. Freedman, K. (2003). The importance of student artistic production to teaching visual culture. Art Education, 56(2), 38-43. Freedman, K., & Stuhr, P. (2004). Curriculum change for the 21st century: Visual culture in art education. In E. Eisner and M. D. Day, Handbook of research and policy in art education (pp. 815-828). Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Freedman, K., & Wood, J. (1999). Reconsidering critical response: Student judgements of purpose, interpretation, and relationships in visual culture. Studies in Art Education, 40(2), 128-142. Garber, E. (2004). Social justice and art education. Visual Arts Research, 30, 2(59), 4-22. Hamilton, J. (2001). Visualizing critique: Montage as a practice of alternative media. Media History, 7(2), 159-170. Hausman, J., & Tavin, K. (2004). Art education and visual culture in the age of globalization. Art Education, 57(5), 47-52.


Heise, D. (2004). Is visual culture becoming our canon of art? Art Education, 57(5), 4146. Hermann, R. (2005). The disconnect between theory and practice in a visual culture approach to art education. Art Education, 58(6), 41-46. Hicks, L. E. (2004). Infinite and finite games: Play and visual culture. Studies in Art Education, 45(4), 285-297. Huyssen, A. (1989). In the shadow of McLuhan: Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulation. Assemblage, 10, p. 9. Lackey, L. M. (2005). Home sweet home? Decorating magazines as contexts for art education. Art Education, 46(4), 323-338. Richard, M. (2007). Engaging “looking-glass” youth in art through the visual narratives of the transforming self in popular culture. Visual Arts Research, 33, 24-37. Sweeny, R. W. (2006). Visual culture of control. Studies in Art Education, 47(4), 294-307. Tavin, K. (2005). Hauntological shifts: Fear and loathing of popular(visual) culture. Studies in Art Education, 46(2), 101-117. Tavin, K. M. (2002). Engaging advertisements: Looking for meaning in and through art education. Visua.l Arts Research, 28, 2(56), 38-47. Vallance, E. (2009). Exploring visual culture downtown: Shop windows as still life. Visual Arts Research, 35(1), 35-49. Walker, S., & Walker, S. (2004). Artmaking in an age of visual culture: Vision and visuality. Visual Arts Research, 30, 2(59), 23-37.


Links for Further Research Go to:



Image Sources Page 1

Cover Photo, ©2013 Ellen S. Goldberg, “Self-Portrait”, Photoshop

Page 4 & 5

©2013 Ellen S. Goldberg, “Corporate Greed of Biblical Proportions”, Photoshop

Page 6 & 7

©013 Ellen S. Goldberg, “Airing Our Dirty Laundry”, Photoshop

Most of the other images contained in this magazine are Creative Commons Licensed.


Author Bio Ellen Goldberg has created

this document/ISSUU Magazine as a part of her final Capstone Project for her Master of Arts in Art Education at the University of Florida. She believes that through the study of visual and material culture in an art curriculum, participants can gain an understanding of where they fit within our consumer driven and very visual world. As a result they can become more empowered individuals who can make better choices, achieve tolerance for other social groups and cultures, and become globally connected citizens.

Ellen’s background includes studies in art, design, Judaica, holocaust, Israel, music, world religions, and art education. Additionally she has worked as a designer, educator, museum administrator, entrepreneur, and consutant. Ellen has traveled widely and considers herself a citizen of the world. Through this document and its activities she hopes to inform, invite participation, and encourage all to really look carefully at the world around themselves; to consider what is behind what they see and to dig deeper into what may seem invisible.


Goldberg magazine december 7  
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