Reference Entry

Sherman, Hoyt Leon

Roy R. Behrens

in Oxford Art Online


Published online October 2007 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T098031

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(b Lafayette, AL, Nov 7, 1903; d Columbus, OH, Dec 1, 1981).

American artist, designer and teacher . His childhood interest in drawing was counterbalanced by parallel involvements in science and engineering. He took high school courses in engineering drawing, which he went on to study at Ohio State University (OSU) in 1921. Soon after, he changed his major to architecture, then art, eventually earning a degree in fine arts in 1927. Hired the following year to teach basic drawing, he remained on the OSU art faculty until his retirement in 1974. The most eventful phase of his life began in 1941, when, in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he devised an extraordinary method (which he credited to Rembrandt) of using drawing to improve the visual acuity of students, with the intention that they might then better detect the presence of enemy airplanes. This teaching method, for which he also admitted indebtedness to Paul Cézanne and the Gestalt psychologists, consisted of asking his students to draw from projected slides in a pitch black room called a flash laboratory. Each slide was projected for only one-tenth of a second, in response to which the students drew from memory in total darkness. By collaborating with non-art members of the OSU faculty (especially educational psychologist Ross L. Mooney and optical physiologist Glenn A. Fry), Sherman was able to argue persuasively that the accuracy of his students’ perception had improved markedly by drawing in the flash laboratory, so much so that members of the university football team were required to work with him daily, with the goal of improving their passing. The results of this teaching method were formally presented in ...

Reference Entry.  438 words. 

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art ; Painting ; Architecture ; Art Education ; Art of the United States ; 20th-Century Art

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