Evidence That It Works
This practice is an adaptation of a photovoice methodology in which participants use photography and stories about their photos to identify and represent issues of importance to them. For example, in this community building project, 11 youth and 18 adults from seven different neighborhoods in an American city were brought together in small groups. Participants noted that the photovoice experience offered an opportunity for reflection on familiar surroundings and for exploration of diverse perspectives.
In a recent study researchers interviewed 132 adults at two different art museums in London to assess whether and how people experience awe during an art museum visit. One of the findings was that exposure to art work may be associated with feelings of awe.
Another research study determined how interior spaces give rise to a feeling of awe through their architectural design. A group of 41 undergraduate students in Canada were presented with 60 photographs depicting different interior spaces. Participants envisioned themselves in the spaces they had observed and responded to a survey about their emotional states. The findings suggest that architectural features such as immensity may lead to awe.
Why Does It Matter?
Visual art has the potential to benefit students of all backgrounds and abilities. For example, low-SES students who are more involved in the arts tend to do better at school, are more likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely to aspire to, attend, and graduate from college.
Visual art also has the potential to make the “wonderful” a bit more concrete and describable, allowing students to directly experience awe and enjoy its individual and collective benefits. Indeed, awe-inspiring visual art experiences can increase happiness and health, thus having a positive impact on students’ well-being. Wonder and awe have also been shown to improve positive social behavior that can lead to building a classroom culture of sharing and collaboration.