Grades/Level: High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts
Time Required: Single Class Lesson

Author: This lesson was adapted by J. Paul Getty Museum Education staff from a curriculum originally published on the Getty's first education website, ArtsEdNet.


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Lesson Overview

This lesson is part of a sequential unit. Students hold a critique session to evaluate the work of their peers using the criteria for value and meaning they developed in "Ceramics: A Vessel into History—Lesson 1."

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• evaluate artworks created by their peers while playing the role of a future archeologist or art historian.
• analyze objects and identify their expressive properties orally, and in written form.
• determine the cultural significance of artworks based on established criteria.
• use deductive reasoning to determine the intended meaning of their peers' artworks.


• students' completed ceramic vessels, displayed in the classroom
• journals for note taking
• Images of ceramic objects. Below are suggested objects for this unit. Click on thumbnails for brief historical information. Additional research may be added and other works may be substituted.

Lesson Steps

1. Display completed student vessels around the classroom for evaluation. Have each student select another student's vessel to evaluate.

2. Post a list of the criteria generated by the class in "Ceramics: A Vessel into History—Lesson 1," step 8. Ask students to interpret and evaluate their peers' vessels in their journals. Write the following questions on the board or a large sheet of paper. Students should respond to each question, describing the work using appropriate vocabulary.
• What makes the object a vessel?
• Using the criteria we established in class, what makes it art?
• What do you think is the culture of the artist? Support your conclusion with visual details.
• Pretend you are an archeologist or art historian living in the year 3000 who just discovered this vessel. Based on what you see in the vessel, what speculations would you make about the values of the culture that created it?

3. Choose volunteers to talk to the class about their speculations.

4. As a class, compare these vessels to the ones from the Getty's collection.

Potpourri Vase / Sèvres
Lidded Potpourri Vase, Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, about 1760


Students should be able to do the following:
• Interpret the works of their peers within an historical and cultural context.
• Participate in discussions and activities using appropriate vocabulary.
• Express informed opinions regarding the significance, value, and meaning of their peers' works of art, based on specific criteria.

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 9–12

Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grades 9—12 Proficient

1.0 Artistic Perception
Develop Perceptual Skills and Visual Arts Vocabulary
1.1 Identify and use the principles of design to discuss, analyze, and write about visual aspects in the environment and in works of art, including their own.
1.2 Describe the principles of design as used in works of art, focusing on dominance and subordination.
Analyze Art Elements and Principles of Design
1.3 Research and analyze the work of an artist and write about the artist's distinctive style and its contribution to the meaning of the work.
Impact of Media Choice
1.5 Analyze the material used by a given artist and describe how its use influences the meaning of the work.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
Derive Meaning
4.1 Articulate how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, and current social, economic, and political contexts influence the interpretation of the meaning or message in a work of art.
Make Informed Judgments
4.3 Formulate and support a position regarding the aesthetic value of a specific work of art and change or defend that position after considering the views of others.
4.5 Employ the conventions of art criticism in writing and speaking about works of art.

National Standards for Visual Arts Education

Grades 9—12

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions
a. Demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art.
b. Evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions. 4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
a. Differentiate among a variety of historical and cultural contexts in terms of characteristics and purposes of works of art.
b. Describe the function and explore the meaning of specific art objects within varied cultures, times, and places.
c. Analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making.
5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
b. Describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts.
c. Reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art.