ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
Inner Worlds

Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Richard Hunt
 Judy Onofrio
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Judy Onofrio
Discussion Questions/Activities

Judy Onofrio, Big Catch The title of this sculpture is Big Catch. What do you imagine is being caught? Why?

What do you see that is playful about this sculpture? How has she used humor?

Do you have a special item that some people might think is junk? What makes something special or valuable? Who decides if something is art?

How would you describe this artwork to someone who couldn't see it? What words would you use?

Discuss how the surface objects add to the narrative. How would it be different if she had covered the sculpture with other things? Or painted it one color? What would you add?

Judy Onofrio creates assemblages. There are two other artists on the Artsnet Minnesota site who also create assemblages - Pepón Osorio and Betye Saar. Compare their artwork. How are they the same? How are they different?


Remember a time when you felt triumphant and create a trophy to celebrate your memory. Brainstorm several different materials you could add to the surface that would also add meaning to the subject of the artwork. If possible, create a three-dimensional assemblage of your design from found objects.

Design a collage that is a tribute or shrine to someone or something that is important to you. Use photos, magazine pictures, fabric, paper, or other small objects that can be glued to cover a poster board surface.

What are some of the things you use and throw away everyday in your classroom? In a corner, using the architecture of the classroom, create a site-specific installation that tells the story of your class. Who are your classmates? What are you studying? What are your class goals? What everyday things should you add to the surface? What would there be a lot of? What can you re-use as art materials? What items would represent individual students?


Write the story of one of your fond memories. Write in the first or third person. Remember to add details and descriptions to make your story more colorful and interesting, just as Onofrio added interesting items to her visual story.


Using the Internet, search for information about outsider and visionary art. What grottoes are in or near your town? Do you know of anybody who loves to create art in their yard? On or in their house? Create a report about an interesting site or artist. If possible interview a local artist.

What other artworks in your community can you find that are about personal or community memories? Investigate, document and report. Create a map and guide that people can use to tour the various sites.

Vocabulary Terms

architecture--The art of creating buildings and spaces, or the built structure and its elements.

assemblage--Work of art made from natural or pre-made objects; usually a three-dimensional wall hanging or freestanding work.

collage--A two-dimensional composition made of a variety of glued papers, textures, print images or other found elements.

found objects--Items from everyday life, perhaps thrown away, that are re-used as sculptural materials.

grotto--an artificial cave, or special space created using stone or cement and often used as a shrine.

Judyland--Begun in the 1980's by sculptor Judy Onofrio, this ongoing garden artwork extends out of her Rochester, Minnesota garage studio and into her surrounding garden.

narrative--A story.

outsider artist--Self-taught artists who create artworks for their own joy and desire rather than to be a part of the established fine art world and market.

sculpture--Artwork with three dimensions: height, width and depth.

shrine--A container, space or site made sacred by association with venerated objects or persons.

site-specific installation--Art built to fit and be experienced in one particular place. Site-specific installation art is often temporary.

three-dimensional--Having height, width and depth.

visionary artist--Self-taught artists who create artworks from their own personal visions and desires, often creating unique and obsessive imagery

Additional Resources

Web Sites to Investigate

American Visionary Art Museum:
Interesting exhibitions of outsider or visionary art. Downloadable curriculum

Dickeyville Grotto:
The Grotto was profiled in the PBS series River of Song. Good visuals and music connections

The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota:
Current exhibitions, tours and programs

Judy Onofrio's Site:
Includes images of Judyland, links to on-line publications, lists her current shows and galleries

Simon Rodia's Watts Tower:
Includes images and curriculum ideas


Beardsley, J. Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists. New York: Abbeville Press, 1995.

Maizels, J. Raw Creation: Outsider art and beyond. London: Phaidon Press, Ltd. 1996.
A well illustrated compendium of outsider art from around the world.

Manley, R. and Sloan, M. Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Environments. New York: Aperture, 1997.

Outsider. Periodical available in print and on-line at
Biannual publication from The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago.

Raw Vision. Periodical available in print and on-line at
International quarterly journal of intuitive and visionary art, outsider, self-taught and folk art, London and New York.

Reuter, Laurel, Judyland: The Art of Judy Onofrio. [exh. cat.] North Dakota Museum of Art, 1993.

Stone, L. and Zanzi, J. Sacred Spaces and Other Places: A Guide to Grottos and Sculptural Environments in the Upper Midwest. Chicago: The School of Art Institute Press, 1993.
Combining the features of a travel guide,a comprehensive historical work, and a profusely illustrated art book, this book describes, compares and analyzes grottos, shrines, gardens, memorials and embellished homes created by self-taught artists in rural Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

von Schaewen, D. and Maizels, J. Fantasy Worlds. Köln: Taschen
Publishing, 2000.

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Discussion/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons