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Unique Exhibition Website—EYETOI.ORG Invites Personal, Interactive Engagement with Art

The exhibition Eye to I… 3,000 Years of Portraits was built on the premise that every person responds to a work of art differently and that museum visitors, who usually keep their perceptions to themselves, should have a place to share them. The Katonah Museum of Art decided to find out firsthand what people are thinking about when they look at art, specifically portraits. A special exhibition website,, was created for viewers to add commentary on each work via museum touchscreens, or from personal computers and tablets. And surprise, surprise—listening in to what’s usually talked about only among like-minded friends confirms the theory that one’s own perceptions are formed by culture, education, personal history and taste. It’s a deliberately non-academic approach, but one that’s sure to elicit a colorful array of personal reactions to art!

Here are a few samples from early visitors to Eye to I, such as the following on the sculpture Charlie by Duane Hanson:
In real life I had to stop and examine Charlie for a few minutes to determine if he was real. Was he breathing? Was he standing there when I walked into the gallery? Did he follow me in to be sure I wouldn’t damage the art with my camera flash? He’s truly lifelike and my “a-ha!” moment when I realized he was part of the exhibition was surreal. The joke was on me. Jen – Chappaqua

And this in response to Red Grooms’ Mondrian:
Love this portrait. I felt drawn in. I am attracted to the austerity of the paintings. So the lack of emotion in the portrait fits. But what really makes this sculpture is the fact that Red Grooms violates the Mondrian frame of clean rectangles by sticking the pipe through the frame and then muddles up the corners with the objects taken from his studio desk. Grooms playfully takes issue with the one-dimensional image of Mondrian as unemotional. Jack – Greenwich

The website was designed so that each portrait is accompanied by two write-ups commissioned by the Katonah Museum of Art. A wide range of people were asked to submit commentary, many of them from the local community. The tone is typically informal and conversational; now and then a poem is evoked. One Bedford banker contributed a haiku in response to Yasumasa Morimura’s Mona Lisa-inspired self-portrait. The personal stories are delightful treats. For instance, a computer-animated Julian Opie portrait brings writer Martha Handler back to the age of seven when her mother walked into the bathroom to find her daughter had just shaved off her eyebrows:

Rather than scolding me (trust me, being eyebrow-less was punishment enough), my mother slowly raises then lowers her eyebrows and her message is delivered loud and clear—ouch! That’s the day I learned that a simple line could mean nothing or everything. It’s all about one’s interpretation.”

Please join this organic, growing conversation and encourage others to do so. The spirit of Eye to I… 3,000 Years of Portraits is exploratory and fun; the responses are sometimes serious, but often playful. So many are heartfelt, interesting, and provocative. Contribute your thoughts and watch the discussion change course yet again.

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