Warning: Links abound!
Today, I played Woody Allen's part--in my Comp 2 classroom. Showing them several different painting, drawings, and photographs, I asked my students to write about the piece of art they felt they could most easily and closely identify with. My assortment included paintings by M.C. Escher (Bond of Union and Relativity), Van Gogh, Picasso (Girl Before a Mirror and The Old Guitarist), H.O. Tanner, Dali, Munch, and R. Bearden; the photography of Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz and Lois Greenfield; and a few pieces from my own private collection--paintings by my brother and one by local a artist. "What does it say to you," I asked--in as non-pretentious a manner as I could muster. I must say that they reacted quite positively, and many of them were excited to run into new artists and paintings. They were very interested in the controversial Miley Cyrus pictures and I think a few of them fell in love with M.C. Escher today.
At the end of class, I asked them to write a response to one of the photos or paintings we'd looked at in class (there were about 20 items to choose from, including one sculpture. We only discussed a few of them as a class). Seven out of 19 students chose the Dali. We had not talked about it at all; it was simply displayed against the blackboard with several other options. All of these students were female. Although they differed in whether they thought the painting was melancholy or simply peaceful, almost every single one of them expressed a wish to be at the window with her.