After an hour of wandering uphill through quiet Catalan neighborhoods, colorful street markets, and quaint coffee shops, I arrived drenched in sweat at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).  The view from nearby Montjuïc Hill made me even more breathless and I soon met up with the group outside the museum.  The goal of our visit to MNAC was to view key images of Catalan art and look deeper into the paintings to enhance our observational and descriptive skills in qualitative research.  This intent of visiting the MNAC was very unlike my prior visits to museums in Chicago, such as The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry, because I visit these locations for leisurely social interaction with my family.

Retaule de sant Pere Martir displayed in the MNAC.

Upon observing this painting, I noted the potential symbolism behind the injuries the martyr sustained, such as the slice to the head indicating a damage to one’s own ideas.  However, other members of my group described the sentiment of dying for a worthwhile cause in a religious context. This discussion allowed me to realize that each person experiences common activities in a completely different way because of their personal biases. While bias often has a negative connotation, it is essential to create focus, form judgments, and make decisions.

Nestor’s Possessio displayed in the MNAC.

Imagine being told to describe this painting to nine blindfolded strangers with the intent of having them accurately visualize every detail of the painting. Faced with this daunting challenge, I began by emphasizing the lover’s passionate embrace framed by rich colors and fruits. As my group opened their eyes to give me feedback, they praised my description of the position of the lovers and colors of the painting. However, they anticipated the figures to be much smaller in comparison to the landscape. This activity was valuable in teaching me to be more specific in describing the scale of objects and ideas, while my classmates enhanced their ability to visualize and add on to the story I was creating.

Joan Ponc’s Dimoni verd displayed in the MNAC.

Imagine pretending to be the expert of a painting you have never seen before in your life and then having to speak to a group about the work. I confabulated that Dimoni verd was a depiction of the mindlessness of religion and the role of the individual in society, a theory my classmates praised as “out of this world” (pun intended).  With such a bizarre situation, I learned that it is important to think on your feet and speak with conviction, especially if you are flying by the seat of your pants.

Disclaimer: All images above have been altered and are not original due to cropping.