John F. Kirchoff
THESIS ABSTRACT 2005
New Docent Strategies
This thesis project develops a new educational art tool, designed primarily for museum walking tours. A standard museum walking tour relies on a docent who effectively mediates and provides the audience with information about the artwork and it’s milieu. This thesis, making use of it’s educational art tool, explores communication connections between the audience and artwork in three stages:
- First, a docent provides an audience with staging contexts by proffering concepts and communication equations for artwork that has not yet been presented;
- Second, the docent separates from the audience, who then proceed to engage the artwork from an informed, but untethered bearing;
- Third, the guide and audience reconvene and discuss the audience’s experience.
This educational art tool prepares an audience to engage, gives them the freedom and flexibility to discover, and provides structures for the audience to learn about art and their relationship to art.
The educational art tool used in this thesis has been theoretically conceived, as well as practically employed and evaluated. The theoretical underpinning balances John Dewey’s audience-centric perspective with the artwork-centric perspectives of Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Hans-George Gadamer. Practical methodologies were developed and tested in the author’s guided tours of the Art Institute of Chicago.
John F. Kirchoff received his BA in Philosophy from Lake Forest College in 1988. Before coming to SAIC, he organized the Shift exhibit at the Buddy and Heaven galleries. His positions have included small business owner, taskforce chair, board member, and Vice-President of Racial Harmony.
Thesis Advisor: Michael Dorf, Adjunct Professor, Arts Administration
David Raskin, Assistant Professor; Art History, Theory, and Criticism