ideas banner

Art as Experience


Art + Design, Our Voice

  • Art as Experience by John Dewey
    Art as Experience by John Dewey

Brittany Sostar, Gallery Attendant | April 24, 2017

I’ve recently been reading Art as Experience, written by John Dewey. This book delves into art philosophy, theory, and how we come to understanding through experience. This text is a very dense read that I am still slowly working away at*. Nevertheless, I am excited to have found it within the Queen’s Square library. Dewey’s book was brought to my attention as I eagerly read through the catalogue of the art exhibition “are you experienced?” This exhibition was open from June 26, 2015 to January 3, 2016 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.


We typically ask: “What’d you think of it?” “How’d it look?” “What does it mean?” when questioning each other about art works or exhibitions. Visiting “are you experienced?” was the first time that I had considered the ways art exhibitions could be used to curate experience. “How did it feel to be a part of this?”


An experiential work of art or exhibition concerns itself with the interactions those artworks will have with the viewer. This idea of art being an experience, relies on the viewer to be present, to use their senses and participate as a part of the exhibition or work. It’s a newer idea to me, one I’m still researching and trying to better understand as I continue to experience art and the world around me.



*I should also forewarn that Dewey uses very male-centered/gendered language throughout his book.