University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto

Field of Philosophy: Aesthetics

Plot Summary: A class of first grade students is involved in an art contest. The judge is the principal’s mother, who notes that her cousin is married to an artist. Looking at the paintings, the judge points out a painting she admires because of its “detail and amazing colors,” and observes that it is a beautiful rabbit. When she is informed that the painting is actually of a dog, the judge decides she does not like the painting after all because she hates dogs, and she chooses another painting as the contest winner.

Some discussion questions:

Is this judge qualified to judge an art contest?
What makes someone qualified to evaluate works of art?
Is the opinion of someone who knows very little about art as valuable as the opinion of someone who has pursued an art education?
If the judge in Emily’s Art says paintings of dogs are not art because she hates dogs, does that mean paintings of dogs are not art?
Is there some art that is art no matter what anyone says? If no one liked the Mona Lisa, would it still be art?
Does someone have to appreciate a work for it to be considered art? More than one person?
Does a work have to have beauty to count as art?