Photograph above taken in Albany, NY with a Leica M7
Looking and seeing are not the same. Someone who is looking at an image (or work of art) is only picking up a few small details - much like skimming text in a book. Someone who "sees" has the ability to decode all the elements of an image (or work of art). In other words, looking is passive while seeing is comprehensive.
Art is a universal language and a form of communication. To become a visually literate artist, one must learn the language of art - meaning the alphabet, the grammar, and the vocabulary of seeing. In simpler terms, a visually literate artist can read, write, and interpret the visual language. In modern times, becoming visually literate is more important than ever. Because of the Internet and technology, we have become a media-driven culture that relies almost entirely on images. In fact, most people view images, on average, about 7.5 hours a day.
Currently, our education system teaches textual literacy and computer literacy but neglects visual literacy as a core curriculum. Also, far too many artists aren't taught the visual language as part of their art educational program. This lack of knowledge prevents the student from ever reaching their full potential, and their overall body of work suffers dramatically. Therefore, if an artist can't read or write the visual language, they won't have the necessary skills to apply that knowledge to their own work, and effective communication through art becomes impossible.