If you're in the D.C. area tomorrow, go see it! I can't recommend the experience enough. Tomorrow is the last day for "Nostalgic Objects" at the Workhouse Arts Center.
The exhibit features pairs of small, simple, colorful images on parchment-like paper, each one created by one of two different artists. From the title of the exhibit, "Nostalgic Objects", it was apparent that I was seeing objects of personal significance to the artists, but I was confused as to why they were paired in the way they were (The first pair I paid attention to is below: "What do two pages of lined paper have to do with two dresses??").
Then I started reading the wall text below, and learned the personal story that each artist attached to the objects in the images (the papers and the dresses). And suddenly I realized the connection between the stories: they were both about a child's assertion of their personal identity, and the papers and dresses were the mementos that embodied that nostalgic moment.
Suddenly I was excited to see the next pair of seemingly dissimilar objects in order to find out what nostalgic moment they both embodied! And grasping the various "nostalgic moments" (e.g. cherished acts of kindness, "green eggs and ham" moments, loss of a precious possession, bonding with parents, etc...) I couldn't help but start thinking of similar kinds of moments in my childhood, and then what kind of object--long lost object--would reflect that moment for me. The artists thought of this--they hoped that I would think about my life in connection to the art they'd created. On the far wall was a collage of sticky notes with visitors' own nostalgic objects.
In teaching art appreciation I strive to have my students grasp a theme and personally connect to it. I've been to exhibits of great art, but I've never been to an exhibit that activity encourages a genuine, personal connection with the art.