Second Visual Literacy Week 2017 – University of Latvia

From 9th to 14th October 2017, the University of Latvia in cooperation with the UNESCO Latvian National Commission and the Association of Culture Teachers organised the Week of the Visual Literacy 2017. The target audience were students, teachers, teacher trainers and interested parties.

Latvia is following the “Common European Framework of Reference for Visual Literacy – Prototype” guidelines by the European Network for Visual Literacy. The principles of the guideline have also been applied, when developing the new curriculum for the elementary education within the project skola2030 (School2030). For the first time the guidelines in Riga were presented in the University of Latvia at the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art on 26th May 2016 during the first Visual Literacy Week 2016. Also, this year’s event kept the focus on the importance of this document, as it was dedicated to an in-depth comprehension of the topic.

The aim of the Week of the Visual Literacy 2017 was to encourage the involvement of the society and to initiate a professional debate on the importance of visual literacy in education and for the society. A number of events were devoted to the appreciation of the cultural heritage by developing new ideas and creating long-term values. A creative workshop that provided an extensive insight in visual literacy and the related educational processes was organised every afternoon.

  • The first creative workshop “Incitements” was organized by a group of architects; it explained how a person perceives the built-up environment with all five senses. The head of the group I. Meksa also tolked about the strategies used by the architects to create diverse spatial emotions and feelings or incitements, how to communicate with architecture, to feel it and to fit in it.
  • The second workshop was “The letter press workshop – application of historical print nowadays” in which the artists Z. Ernstreite and L. Sirmais gave a short introduction into the history of the letter press. The participants had a possibility to observe the demonstration of the letter press process and take part in it themselves.
  • The third workshop was held by the photographer N. Vrublevska. The workshop “photo + text = collage” was followed by the discussion about the strategies how to read and understand the visual material and vice versa – how to turn the text into a visual message. The participants applied these strategies to make their self-portraits, using photos of cultural – historic objects, text collages and forms of contemporary poetry.
  • On Friday another creative workshop was held, “Visual literacy in urban environment. Visual Old Riga” which was led by A. Avotina. Hiding from the drizzling rain under umbrellas and equipped with binoculars the participants of the workshop set out to get to know the Old Riga buildings and do some tasks. The walk ended in the Art Museum Riga Bourse.

The fourth day was dedicated to the interdisciplinary conference “Visual Literacy for the Society and Education”. The audience had the opportunity to hear various lectures on visual literacy from different points of view: J. Skilters “Visual perception, attention on the route from feelings to experience and knowledge”, I. Karlsone “Visual literacy as a vision”, A. Dzilna “Visual space in the web design”, J. Mitrevics “Modern museum as the carrier of visual information”, E. Vanags “Perception and its illusions. How do we understand what we see?” and M. Sevele “Teachers’ visual creativity in the teaching/learning environment”. On the last day of the Visual Literacy Week 2017 the participants took a one-day tour to Rundale palace to explore and learn to reappraise one of the most magnificent architectural monuments of Latvia. There the week was concluded by giving all participants the opportunity to reflect their experineces, to assess and express their personal gains and discoveries. Hot tea and festive kliņģeris (sweet big pretzel) was served in the seminar room of the Rundale palace.

Planning for the Week of the Visual Literacy 2018 which will be held in the light of the 100th anniversary of Latvia, has already started.

Head of the Visual Literacy Week, Ph.Dr. Austra Avotina