Manhattan Montessori School

Classroom Artist ; Marie Katzman

Aesthetic Education

Program Coordinator: Holly Fairbank

Teaching   Artist;  John Toth

Artwork Under Study:

Gaurdian1541t.jpg (12022 bytes)

Guardian (618-907)

earthenware, paint, gilding

Tang dynasty

Gaunyin1531t.jpg (13436 bytes)

Seated Water Moon Gaunyin
wood and paint
Jin dynasty


Seated Bodhisattva
Song dynasty
The Ming Scholars Garden Ming dynasty

     Dear teachers, parents and students,

     My name is John Toth and I am a teaching artist from Lincoln Center Institute. We call our work in the classroom, Aesthetic Education because we explore the effects of creative art on human experience.   I would like to ask you a series of questions that will require that you look very closely at details is this painting. I prefer to give little information about this work and instead ask you to "visually read" the details and elements of artworks from the Asian collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

      We will question, deconstruct, explore and "unpack" the many visual elements that we see by a method that will ask you to describe, analyze, interpret and reflect on your own observations and the observations of your peers.  Consider the response of each others view. In the classroom my desire is for the questions to promote a conversation about the details and possible meanings in interpreting the artwork.  Students in my classrooms will frequently make comments on each others observations creating a "flow" of thinking, speculation and interpretation that builds a number of choices and paths towards understanding the world of art and  experience.  I will ask you to suspend your judgements so as to  fully engage your senses with the artwork in a search for meaning and understanding based on your own personal experience.   My method for engaging you with the art work is to consider  questioning  strategies that will stimulate investigation so as to find connections between the world of choice making  in art  and the making of choices we do in our daily lives.

      Later, in reflection, I will ask how this exploration connects to learning about life through the arts..


1a. Starting QUESTIONS:

What is going on in this sculpture? Describe the movement that you see?

Who are these people?  What does their clothing say about their status?

What does body their language suggest? Describe their mood.

Describe objects that you see?  What purpose do they serve?

Describe the designs that you see?  What kind of shapes do you recognize? Draw them.

1b. Follow-Up QUESTIONS:

What do you see that makes you say that?


In The Museum;

  • Stand in a place that feels peacefull in the gallery.
  • Sit in a way that makes you feel peaceful.
  • What about this place makes you feel peaceful?
  • Ask people to get into the same positions of the the sculptures.
  • What does you learn from getting into these shapes?
  • How does your body feel holding this pose?
  • What kind of lines does your arms, legs, fingers, torso make? (angular, curvy or what else?)
  • Make drawings of the sculptures that consider lines as that resemble the flow of the sculpture.
  • Make a drawing of objects / symbols that you see.
  • Reflect on the meaning of these common or symbolic objects


Ars Bellum copyright 2002 John Toth