Solso considers psychology, art ties

by Heather Baxter
For the Campus Times

Dr. Robert L. Solso, a professor from the University of Nevada, Reno, presented the “Psychology of Art” during his lecture Monday in Founders Hall Auditorium.

“It is my contention that the more you know about art, the more interesting it will become to you, and the more you will want to know,” said Dr. Solso.

He set the tone for his lecture on the relationship between cognition, the process of knowing through broad senses-including perception, memory and judgment-and the visual arts by quoting William James.

“Mind and world … have evolved together, and in consequence are something of a mutual fit,” he said.

In attendance were students from a range of academic interests, yet the concentration of students were from the Behavioral Sciences and Art Departments.

“You can teach a variety of psychological topics using artwork as the central medium in an effort to help students understand other topics,” said Dr. Solso. “Art tells us much about humanity, and about our perceptions and stereotypes, an integral facet to psychology.”

Dr. Solso lectured on the importance of art in terms of how people look at psychology. By examining the way in which people view artwork, Dr. Solso contended that “artists take advantage of [people’s] tendency to dichotomize art” and because of this, art has become more important in society. It has also become an important tool in the analysis of people’s schema.

Dr. Solso had an hour to present all of his information. Due to the fact that 20 minutes of this hour was used for introductions, he was unable to delve deeply into his ideas of cognition. However he did get into the superficial ideas of applying geometric shapes, such as triangles and squares, to both historic and current artwork.

In addition to the lack of time allowed for the lecture, poor lighting conditions in the auditorium served to detract from the overall atmosphere of the presentation. The slides and overheads were difficult to see through the light filtering in the uncovered windows. In an effort to compensate for the lighting, Dr. Solso apologized profusely at the beginning of each new slide.

Despite the adverse conditions, most students, whether they had been required to attend the lecture or not, went away with a new perspective on the ability of art to help interpret psychological findings.

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