If you’re looking to recapture a sense of awe, one of our newest courses, Art & Ideas: Wonder, might be for you. The innovative course combines philosophical discussion with art-making – all in the name of engaging deeply with art while rediscovering a sense of wonder.
We spoke with instructor and philosopher Dr. Wendy O’Brien to learn more about the links between art and philosophy and why it’s important to cultivate a sense of wonder.
AGO: Why is a philosopher interested in art?
Wendy: I’m interested in finding ways to actively “do” philosophy rather than just reading it. Like literature, the visual arts provide us with opportunities to see the world in new ways and broaden our vision.
AGO: We’re just wondering: Why does wonder matter?
Wendy: We used to wonder at the world. Wonder was the standard we used to judge scientific achievements and artistic excellence. Then something happened to us – both collectively and individually. We stopped wondering at the world. In this workshop, we explore why that happened and if we can get our wonder back.
How will the course connect to art?
We’ll explore the relationship between wonder and the creative process. We’ll look at works in the AGO Collection and in the exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak. We’ll also make art through painting, drawing and sculpting. I can’t wait to get started! I learn so much each time I explore these topics with participants.
AGO: Are there specific artworks at the AGO that you find inspire wonder?
Wendy: There are so many! So many of the works in the exhibitions as well as the AGO Collection have shaped questions that I have about our experience of wonder. One that stands out is Jean Paul Riopelle’s Chartreuse II (currently on view in the Irina Moore Gallery on Level 2). This work dazzles me every time I see it. Both the mix of colours and the thickness of the paint demands our attention and appreciation for the process behind making a work of this scale.
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This article has been condensed and edited for clarity.