Growing the Art Image and Visual Literacy Garden: The Journey to Create a Practical Guide for Student Employees

  • Lael J. Ensor-Bennett Johns Hopkins University
Keywords: surrogate image, digital image, students, training, employee, visual literacy, art history, digital humanities, humanities, visual resources, art librarianship, ethics, art theory, visual culture, digitization, Photoshop, guide, pedagogy, visual analysis, materiality


Expanding upon my poster titled “Art Instead of Just Images: Training Students to See Beyond the Screen” presented at the 2016 ARLIS/NA + VRA Third Joint Conference in Seattle, I detail the current journey of my project to create a practical guide for student employees to understand and manipulate images of art. In exploring this topic I discovered that there is a lack of literature specifically addressing looking at and manipulating digital surrogate images of works of art. Non-humanities student employees often lack the visual literacy and art historical skills to successfully edit and evaluate digital art images. This article seeks to find a way to effectively provide such students with a baseline of knowledge with the goal of both improving the quality and extent of their work and adding value to their own educational careers. In this article, I question both what constitutes a baseline of knowledge and what we actually want to teach student employees. What would a practical guide need to include and entail? Further investigation reveals a host of theoretical and ethical considerations that must be addressed for any such documentation to function.


The author would like to thank Grace L. Barth and Amy Lazet who were instrumental in helping navigate the many winding paths of this project.

Author Biography

Lael J. Ensor-Bennett, Johns Hopkins University

Lael J. Ensor has been the Assistant Visual Resources Curator at the Johns Hopkins University Visual Resources Collection since late 2013. Before joining the VRC she worked for three years at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. She graduated with a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Delaware in 2009 with a focus on early medieval art and Islamic manuscripts.

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