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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An approach to teaching metaphoric understanding and metaphoric expression in the visual arts Ehlers, Wendy Joan


This thesis advances the proposition that a program of study designed to improve recognition and understanding of metaphor in the art and literature of others, will assist post-secondary Fine Arts students with expressing metaphoric thought in their own imagery. Twenty-two first year college students responded to a ten week investigation of metaphor, with a variety of visual and written assignments, demonstrating how their ability to recognize, understand and use metaphor was affected over the period of the study. Several approaches to the problem of expressing metaphor with visual language are identified and described, and the results are compared. Many of the products motivated by a preconceived, deliberate approach to visual metaphor relied upon visual and written information gathered from vicarious sources. These images lacked a sense of personal involvement between the student and his subject. Those images that relied upon direct, personal involvement with a particular set of qualities possessed by the subject, initiated more spontaneous expressions. The conclusions drawn from the study suggest that, while a theoretical knowledge of metaphor provides students with a necessary conceptual foundation to recognize and understand the meaning of metaphor, authentic expressions of metaphoric thought are more likely to occur when a less deliberate approach to visual metaphor is taken. Theoretical knowledge of metaphor can be applied more effectively to the process of critical analysis and interpretation of visual imagery; while the making of visual imagery may be more appropriately served by intuitive use of metaphor.

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