Department of Art Education
George Roeder Master’s Symposia Gene Siskel Film Center 164 North State Street Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Program Schedule Morning Session: 9:00 am–12:00 pm Welcome and Introduction Caitlin Ostrow (MAT) Jessica Kaswiner (MAAE) Amanda Adlesick (MAT) Ewa Bloch (MAAE) Kristan Hanson (MAAE) Moderated Q&A Jessica Lowery (MAAE) Luthando Mazibuko (MAT) Elena Goetz (MAAE) Katie Moncton (MAT) Kate Legg (MAAE) Molly Nolan (MAAE) Moderated Q&A
Lunch: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm Afternoon Session: 1:00 pm–4:00 pm Welcome and Introduction Lauren Yockel (MAAE) Mary Serbe (MAT) Katie Romans (MAAE) Meredith Eastburn (MAAE) Justin Barnes (MAAE) Moderated Q&A Manuel Sanchez (MAAE) Meaghan Burritt (MAT) Junko Sano (MAAE) Moderated Q&A Closing Remarks
Department of Art Education
Thesis Abstracts 2009 – 2010
Caitlin Ostrow Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: D isability Studies and Critical Pedagogy: Intersections in Art Education Teaching students with disabilities is the subject of extensive research in the education field. However, curriculum inviting all students to consider the lived experiences of people with disabilities is scarce. Existing approaches to promoting disability awareness often involve simulation exercises, in which students wear blindfolds or use wheelchairs to temporarily pretend to have a disability. These exercises call attention to physical rather than environmental disabling conditions and inspire pity for the disability community, hindering the pursuit of social justice. With approximately 20 percent of Americans living with a disability, it is imperative that K–12 educators and their students call into question widespread assumptions and beliefs about disability. Art educators can do so by designing curriculum inspired by disability artists. These artists live with disabilities and create artwork that explores issues surrounding disability. I investigated the following questions through action research: What occurs when students consider attitudes toward disability through a critical study of disability artists’ work? How can epistemological shifts in students’ attitudes toward disability be interpreted in the context of art education? What tensions and challenges arise for the teacher who uses art as a means to open up critical conversations with students about disability? To gain insight into these questions, I invited sixth graders to challenge stereotypes about disability through comic strips. My research site was a public middle school in a predominantly white, upper middle class northern suburb of Chicago. After brainstorming various stereotypes and sharing stories about people with disabilities in their lives, students examined artwork by disability artists including John and Claire Lytle, authors of the “dizABLED” comic strip, and created their own comic strips intended to dispel disability stereotypes. Students with and without disabilities participated in this project. The data I collected consisted of video recordings of class discussions, students’ artwork and written assignments, and my daily written reflections. Many students cleverly disproved a variety of stereotypes related to disability with their comics. Not only did they contemplate attitudes toward disability through their participation in this project, they also witnessed that art has the power to promote positive social change. As their teacher, I learned how to challenge students to reach their potential and how to ensure that students with disabilities could fully and comfortably participate. I recommend that other educators who wish to transform prevailing attitudes toward disability teach similar lessons that advance disability awareness without using simulation exercises.
Jessica Kaswiner Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: W hen Professional Becomes Personal: Investigating the General Education Teacher’s Dispositions toward the Art Museum Field Trip This qualitative case-study tells the story of four general education teachers in a Chicago public elementary school and shares their unique dispositions towards the art museum field trip. I sought answers to the following questions: What are the general education teachers’ dispositions towards the art museum field trip experience? What obstacles do teachers face in integrating museum related content from the art museum into classroom curricula? How can the art museum better meet the curricular goals and objectives of the general education teacher? As a museum educator, I wanted to gain a better understanding of teachers’ subjective feelings towards the museum field trip and what barriers exist that affect their ability to provide an impactful learning experience for their students. Over the course of a five month period I met with the teachers after school, chaperoned their field trips, and hosted a culminating dinner and discussion. Through casual conversation, a formal survey, and the dinner forum discussion, I accurately recorded the teachers’ comments. This interaction was critical, because, unlike much of the extant literature in the field, I aim to accurately portray teacher voices. Through my continued contact and constant presence at the school, I earned their trust and gained access to both their professional and personal lives. Through our conversations, I found that not all teachers are comfortable with the content discussed at art museums. For this reason, the teachers were apprehensive about leading tours unaided and preferred that a docent conduct the tour. I learned that some teachers prefer a pre-packaged museum program because it offers a break, a “vacation”, from teaching. In order for general education teachers to gain confidence with unfamiliar material, the museum education staff must remain accommodating and flexible when collaborating with schools. Not only should the institution offer professional development credits for participation in training programs and evaluative workshops, the museum staff should maintain a physical presence at the school. This study offers further potential solutions for both the museum educator and schoolteacher to help optimize the field trip for all parties involved. I advocate for better practices, rather than one superlative “best” practice. This study examines some of the complexities teachers face planning a field trip to a museum”. Professionals in the field must recognize that this partnership is symbiotic. Only through mutual efforts will the art museum field trip become a valuable learning opportunity for students, teachers, and museum staff alike.
Amanda Adlesick Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: A ctivating Students Through Arts Based Methods of Research in an Urban Critical Place-Based Exploration of Community An epidemic of student disengagement in schools, and rampant standardization that “teaches to the test”, is leaving the actual experiences and everyday lives of students out of their education. In this cultural context, it seems imperative that schools reawaken the learning spirit of students by bringing the students’ own communities and ‘places’ of their everyday lives into the classroom. I wanted to investigate how a critical place-based education in the arts, utilizing arts based methods of research, could activate and engage urban students in their personal explorations of community. Place-based education is believed to boost self-esteem, academic achievement, and student engagement. In an action research project focused on using arts based methods of research, I addressed the questions: What occurs when students use artistic strategies to research, collect data about and represent their communities? How does an urban critical place-based art education affect students’ perceptions of their own community and research? What occurs when students become the researchers and teachers of their own communities in the classroom and art curriculum through the artistic strategies of photography, drawing, and map-making? I investigated my research questions through a critical place-based action research project. I worked with beginning photography students at an urban Chicago high school for 7 weeks to create a photographic series of their view of their community through a series of images taken using various set parameters for exploration. Students were regarded as researchers who mapped their personal perceptions of their community through instruction based explorations, documentary photography, the maintenance of a creative research journal, and the creation of a map artwork utilizing their contact sheet images. My study furthers the argument that we need to break children out of the four walls of the classroom as one way to address student disengagement in classrooms. A critical place-based approach can not only better the school and surrounding communities, but also aid students in the development of a personal community identity. I have shown that by putting students in the role of co-researchers, art educators can increase their ability to critically construct their own ideas of community. My research has shown that a critical place-based educational experience, utilizing arts-based research as a teaching tool, is a beneficial asset to children as they grapple with growing up, developing their own ideas about their communities, and asserting themselves within the world.
Ewa Bloch Program: Master of Arts and Art Education (MAAE) Title: S tudents’ Perception of Personal History through Visual and Oral Narratives The purpose of this research was to explore—in an after-school art workshop for youth—the use of storytelling, video and painting as a catalyst for self-reflection and an increased understanding of the linkage between the past and the present. The main question that guided my study was: what happens when students are presented with an opportunity to reflect on their personal history through visual and oral storytelling? In this research I also explored the use of video as a platform for personal narratives and as a vehicle for an inquiry-based curriculum. I conducted the case study with high school students from the small, marginalized community in rural Hawaii. In the summer of 2009, on the premises of the local public school, I lead a workshop, based on the Hawaiian storytelling tradition. Two students shared personal stories from their past and reflected upon them through: painting, recording their interviews with each other, interpreting each other’s art works, and through viewing their documentary footage on a daily basis. The workshop ended with the public exhibition of students’ video and large-scale paintings. The students’ stories evolved as they re-told them. Critical engagements with their personal history helped students uncover new meanings in their past experiences resulting in greater self-awareness. Video proved to be an effective tool for critical inquiry. Providing students with consistent one-on-one advising was a pedagogical strategy that increased students’ engagement in the project and supported their individual interests. The school’s faculty was in agreement that an after school art program that complements the school’s curriculum would greatly benefit the local youth. The school’s principal expressed interest in collaboration, should such a program be implemented. My study recommends that a sustainable after-school art program for rural youth requires close collaboration of school, parents and community. This project afforded me the unique opportunity that enhanced my pedagogical practice. Through the practical application of the alternative teaching approach, I have furthered my journey to understanding student-centered curriculum. I hope that this study contributed to the limited research in the field of art education for rural youth.
Kristan Hanson Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: H ospitality and the Unexpected: Concepts for Opening Curricula to Risk Taking and Moments of Difficulty During Family Gallery Tours in Art Museums My action research project explored what it means to create and facilitate family gallery tour curricula in encyclopedic art museums. The topic derives from my own experiences as a guide in an art museum, where I have facilitated conversations with families. As a novice I relied on observation-based, or guiding, questions to lead families along a linear curricular path; however, I quickly realized that my teaching practice was limited by my reluctance to open my curricula to the unknown. In a graduate course titled “Understanding Curriculum” I found a language for thinking self-reflexively about my practice that prompted me to consider several questions. How do museum educators learn to create and facilitate family gallery tours in encyclopedic art museums? How do they think about their interpretive decisions when creating and facilitating tour curricula? How do they regard risk taking and moments of difficulty that arise during their gallery tours? As an interdisciplinary inquiry my project builds on the writings of several scholars: Julia Rose, whose work explores the parallel histories and mutual concerns of curriculum theory and museum education; Deborah P. Britzman, who uses the psychoanalytic concepts of wild thoughts, doubts, and worries to consider the relationship between unruly knowledge and learning with the arts; and Jen Gilbert, who applies Jacques Derrida’s concepts of hospitality and the unexpected to the pedagogical to reconsider the place of sexuality and gayness in high school curricula. Using the methodology of action research I gathered qualitative data with which to study museum educators’ understandings of risk taking and moments of difficulty in teaching and learning. My fieldwork consisted of three phases—facilitating tours, observing tours, and interviewing educators—that occurred in collaboration with three museum educator research participants. When interpreting the qualitative data that I gathered through observation charts, journal entries, and interview transcripts I discovered an under-theorized tension between maintaining and yielding control of curricula. My project considers how educators might use the concepts of hospitality and the unexpected to teach from within this tension so that their conversations with families welcome the unexpected— or, what is foreign to and within the self—as part of an authentic engagement with difficult artworks.
Jessica Lowery Program: Master of Arts in Arts Education (MAAE) Title: The Implications of Naming Artists as “Outsiders” “A vital, sensible, and imaginative vocabulary can only be selfgenerated during the process of self-naming. Even then, consensus is unlikely. Inevitably, there is division in the ranks because frustration, contradiction, and growth are the gears by which the continuing cross-cultural education grinds ahead.” —Lucy Lippard, Mixed blessings: New art in a multicultural America I have always been fascinated by society’s desire for labeling people. I have had an affinity for labeling because names make understanding possible. Although the pursuit for knowledge can be found in labels, all names are transient. Their meaning evolves with time and is dependent on who is naming whom. Because we are not in control of all names placed upon us there is the possibility of names being negatively skewed. In my research I investigated the implications of the name outsider art. Using Intuit: Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art as well as adjunct associate professor Lisa Stone as liaisons to connect to artists who have been labeled outsider artists. My goal has been to answer the following questions through micro-ethnographic case studies: What is the significance of naming and how is the label outsider art a vehicle for understanding the implications of naming? What is the artist’s personal definition of outsider art? What does the artist think about being labeled an outsider artist? What names does the artist use when self-naming? Micro-ethnographic case studies were conducted through interviews with Pearl Fryar and Dr. Charles Smith with the use of video and audio recorders to document the thoughts of both artists. These recordings were transcribed and transformed into a graphic non-fiction book that includes two short documentaries. The graphic non-fiction book and videos will serve as a teaching tool for Intuit’s Teacher Fellowship Program. My research made it clear that Dr. Smith and Pearl Fryar are fully in charge of their artistic destinies. Because both artists are confident about their artistic identities, neither felt hindered by being named outsider artists. Despite their acceptance of the term outsider artist, when referring to themselves they chose names such as: “folk artist”, “historian of community affairs”, “self-taught artist” and “man who cuts up bushes”.
Luthando Mazibuko Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: S ayin’ it Loud!: Understanding Adolescents and Expression through the Art of Spoken Word Poetry “Rebellion,” “dangerous,” and “illiterate,” are words often used to describe the minds and the behaviors of high school-age urban youth. Less often does a school curriculum focus on understanding how youth view the world. Such a curriculum would emphasize how youth are using artistic forms of expression and literacy to explore and represent their emerging identities. My thesis research investigates how youth use the art of spoken word poetry to comment on issues in the world. My thesis research was based on the following questions: How do youth use spoken word poetry and performance to construct a critical commentary about their worlds? How do they use this commentary as a place to construct their emerging identities? And how can youths’ commentaries help art educators think about the practice of teaching in relation to the ways in which young people see the world? This research study took place over a period of seven weeks, at VSM high school. I created an art curriculum that was focused on finding out how youth in the high school grade levels could use spoken word poetry and art making to locate themselves within the city’s social grid. My data for this study was collected through a lesson called “Transporting home and comfort”. Through this project students had to engage in an art making process that combined writing poetry about their different interpretations of “home and comfort,” 3D building, and recording of some of their written poetry pieces. During a seven-week period youth, from freshmen to senior levels, shared various ideas about how they understand and define home and identity through the various lenses of their emerging identities. They explored racial identity and physical appearance, living in neighborhoods where drugs and violence are rampant, migration and displacement, spirituality and drug addiction. Through my research I become an advocate for keeping ideas of lesson planning and the discourses of curriculum in tune with how young people see the world. Furthermore, I argue that bringing youth perspectives on issues surrounding their development into the practices and conversation of art education has the potential to support youth in creating interconnected definitions about what it means to be in the world, to have an experience among other beings, and to interpret this experience creatively through spoken word poetry and performance.
Elena U. Goetz Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: T he Pedagogy of Talk: Understanding the Intellectual Kinship Between Teens and Contemporary Art In this study, I examined talk in two distinct but interlocking educational facets: first, I explored the power of talk as an educational tool for teens, presenting contemporary art as the catalyst for meaningful talk among teens; second, in this study, I positioned talk as valid data for educational research. I hypothesized that contemporary art and teenagers, because of thematic similarities, are positioned to share what educational scholar, Paulo Freire, has termed an “intellectual kinship.” My thesis has examined this kinship through talk. A significant discovery of educational research is that teens are particularly receptive to educational experiences anchored in self-determined interests or ownership. In my work with teenagers at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), I have observed that teens often find contemporary art temporally and culturally familiar enough to allow for a personal investigation. These rich responses are exactly the stimulant for meaningful talk. Theorists emphasize that talk is popular among teens because it embodies this same concept of personal interest and expression. In turn, with contemporary art as prime catalyst, productive talk results in rich educational growth. To investigate how talk functions in teen-contemporary art education, I worked with the Education Department at the MCA to organize two focus groups consisting of teen educators and teens. With each group I recorded the talking that occurred. The self-contained method of focus groups embraces the inherent qualities of talk; “Talk is always done locally. It happens in an immediate ecology of co-presence about particular persons who interact within an immediate physical and society environment” (Erickson, 2004, p. 107). The rich content of my audio recordings refute societal assumptions often made about talk: that talk is just jabber, and talk has no role in serious research where written specifics or carefully prepared verbal reports are considered superior. Rather, my research identified talk, flexible and familiar, as a compelling data source for understanding pedagogy. Four emergent themes guided my process and exposed meaningful conclusions: navigating change, talk as process and product, contemporary art as catalyst, perceptual harmonization between teen educator and teen. I found talk to be a transformative educational tool for teen educators and teens to explore these areas. In addition, in the era of immediacy, where youth culture is saturated with mobile media and social networking, I found the instantaneous nature of talk as data to have critical relevancy to the future of educational research.
Katie Moncton Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: U sing Art to Explore Students’ Emotional Responses to Environmental Education Confronting the challenges of the current climate crisis requires careful reflection and action from all of us. However, educators and artists have a particularly important role to play. My thesis investigates the emotional dimension of environmental education. It is my hope that if students learn to reflect on their own inner worlds as they make sense of the world around them, their actions will have greater meaning and impact. I investigated the following questions: In what ways can students use art to explore the range of feelings they have about environmental issues? What occurs when students at different developmental stages reflect upon their relationship to the environment and make it visible through art? How can art educators learn about what care and concern for the environment mean from the perspective of students? I conducted my study at a K–8 Chicago public school with a strong ecology curriculum and arts integration model. Over a seven-week student teaching placement in 2010, I worked with 4th, 7th, and 8th grade classes once a week in art class. The 4th and 7th grade classes generated shadow puppet plays and comics in response to an environmental parable by a contemporary First Nations artist. The 8th graders did a printmaking project inspired by a contemporary artist who makes consumption visible using photography. My data included student artwork and writing, my daily notes on classroom discussion and art making activities, and my personal reflections on all aspects of teaching and curriculum-design. My greatest challenge was designing curriculum that allowed students to authentically explore their feelings about environmental issues. Through this complex process, I found that such learning is most likely to occur if lessons line up with students’ developmental needs. Creating conditions for critical exploration of complicated environmental issues and students’ feelings about these issues requires a careful balance of discussion and art making. This is a challenge given the limited time K-8 students spend in the art classroom. Lastly, I discovered that educators have much to learn from young people if we allow room in our curriculum for them to teach us. Art has always been a means to better understand the world around us and to express our inner worlds. I hope my study will add to a growing body of arts-based educational research that asks teachers to give attention to students’ emotional worlds as they seek to make sense of the world around them.
Katherine W. Legg Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: F amily Gallery as Experimental Laboratory: An Exploration of Interactive, Educator-Driven Spaces in Art Museums This study began with an interest in interactive family galleries in art museums. Tucked away in back rooms or basements, these spaces are experimenting with new ways of presenting and interpreting art. Through my own experience working in family galleries I found families were not the only visitors; often adults without children entered the space looking for a comfortable place to reflect, easy to understand labels, and interactive learning that provided a means of relating artwork to their own lived experiences. As I studied theories of informal learning and current interpretation strategies in art museums, I discovered many of the practices such as integrating technology, presenting exhibitions thematically, a focus on interactive learning, collaboration between departments, and addressing issues of visitors comfort that have been central to family galleries since their inception are now important trends appearing in the art museum as a whole. This study asks how and why museums are integrating practices that mirror those of family galleries. Specifically, how are such strategies successful? How is the shifting focus of the museum changing the hierarchy of the staff? What can art museums learn from family galleries? And finally, in light of my research, what does the future of the museum look like? This study details how museums can learn from these family galleries by developing case studies of four important, educator programed spaces. Through a series of interviews and observations of two family galleries: Art Sparks at the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Experiencenter at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio, one multigenerational interactive gallery: The Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas, and one recently redesigned encyclopedic art museum: the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan this study suggests how museums can learn from family galleries and considers the future of these spaces and art museums in general.
Molly Nolan Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: A Reciprocal Study on the Effects of Stereotypes and A Teacher’s Transformation The purpose of this thesis is to explore issues of racism and power during a seven-week placement in a racially diverse high school. My thesis demonstrates the use of art as the experience and opportunity to question student thinking and understanding. The main goal of this thesis research is to deepen my own understanding of the racial diversity and thus, in this context understand tension existing within the classroom. Through this thesis, students ask and answer complex questions of the visual culture they are enveloped in. Students are encouraged to uncover and discuss the role ideology and stereotyping has on their perceptions. The primary question guiding my research is: “What occurs when students deconstruct race and racism within the media, society and visual culture?” The sub-questions explored include: “How do stereotypes impact our lives?” “How does our own self-image change based on the judgments of others?” While working with a group of high school students with backgrounds much different than my own, my research is mean to open a dialogue regarding the social assumptions and stereotypes that affect (or inform) their beliefs, and therefore their lives. I encourage students to think differently. My research involves the writing and art making of high school students, providing a safe place for development of opinion, and honoring the students’ voices. Maxine Green reminds educators that adolescent opinion and understanding is invaluable; students have something to say. A variety of data informed the outcomes of this thesis. I relied on student artwork, group discussions, critiques, and critical engagement with contemporary art and artists. I also kept a detailed blog of the student development and questioning as well as detailing project progression. The study revealed many useful insights for my personal and professional development and understanding. The students were challenged to question their surroundings, and ultimately I was rewarded with the voices in their artwork. The results of this study include my altered lens, and the ability to critically engage with students from diversified backgrounds.
Lauren V. Yockel Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: T eens as Museum Learners: How High School Students Make Personal Meaning on Docent-Led Art Museum Tours In museum education, learning is often understood as a process by which visitors construct their own understanding or meaning through interactions with objects. This thesis describes the meaning that high school students attribute to their overall museum visit and to specific works of art encountered on docent-led tours. Two initiatives pursued by museum educators over the past two decades include: a greater understanding of how learning occurs in the museum and a transformation in the museum relationship with teen visitors. Despite the progress made through these efforts, most museums have not fully considered the learning experiences of the thousands of high school students who visit their institutions each year. To move towards an understanding of these experiences, this research investigated three questions: What occurs when students make meaning of artworks as a result of their participation in single-visit, docent-led tours? Are students forming personal meaning as a result of connections between their lived experience and works of art? Do students consider their museum experience and/or specific works of art to be personally meaningful? These issues were investigated through the perspectives of three volunteer docents and seventy-three high school tour participants at an encyclopedic art museum. To understand the program facilitatorâ€™s point of view, I conducted in-depth interviews with the docents. Next, utilizing a case study approach, I studied three high school student groups that participated in docent-led tours at the museum. Each case study implemented the following data collection methods: 1) a written post-visit questionnaire, 2) a collage-making activity at each school within one week of their field trip, and 3) short interviews with a subset of students two months later. These methods gave students multiple modes of expression and opportunities to reflect on their experiences, while also enabling me to analyze the meaning they were attributing to the museum visit and specific works of art. I discovered that program facilitators believe in the potential for students to make personal meaning, but they do not typically have the means to verify this occurrence during docent-led tours. In working with students, I found the meanings they associate with their museum experiences vary markedly, and those who are forming personal meaning do so more in relation to their self-identity than specific lived experience. To conclude, I discuss how this knowledge can help museums maximize opportunities for all teen visitors to make personal meaning in relation to their current and future selves.
Mary Serbe Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Title: T aking Risks and Embracing Conflict While Learning to Teach Art: Reflections on Critical Pedagogy, Student Teaching, and Learning with Students Creating meaningful art involves taking risks. Learning to teach art in a meaningful way also incorporates risk-taking. As a student teacher, every element of teaching involves risk and creates the potential for conflict, including class instruction, student interaction, classroom management, and fostering meaningful connections between students and their artwork. A student teacher cannot predict students’ responses. She does not yet know herself as a teacher, and she has a very limited time to get to know students. My research questions address: How do risk-taking and conflict impact the experience of learning to teach in a Chicago high school classroom? What is the relationship between conflict and creativity in the context of students’ learning? How does a student teacher translate her development as a classroom art educator into a critical and personally meaningful theory of teaching? My research took place during seven weeks of student teaching at a Chicago public high school in 2010. I taught a six-week unit plan in which students created sculptures of a single piece of clothing. My professional, personal, and developmental experience as a student art teacher is the context for my research on teaching, student learning, and learning to teach art. I compare the developmental territory of confidence building, risktaking, and confronting the conflicted and emotional atmosphere of an art classroom. Within that space, student teachers search for their voices as educators and adolescents search for their roles as adults. Following the work of Britzman (2009), and Nakkula and Toshalis (2006), I argue that in the context of art education and learning to teach, risk taking needs to be reframed as a necessary platform for meaningful teaching and art making. Data was collected from various sources: my multiple journals on teaching from the perspective of lesson planning, connections with academic research, and daily reflections; direct written feedback from students and my cooperating teacher; and student artwork produced during my research. Triangulation of these sources resulted in my key data. I hope my research spurs new perspectives in art education, critical pedagogy, and teacher education regarding the role of risk and conflict. Critical teachers have previously explored how education can be rooted in students’ backgrounds and perspectives. I pose the idea of learning with students. By recognizing that teachers learn with their students academically, creatively, emotionally, and developmentally, educators can form more authentic connections through their teaching. I suggest that the process of learning together, and finding the courage to confront risks and conflict collaboratively may result in more meaningful student artwork and more capable art teachers.
Katie Romans Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: C reating Community-Based Activist Art with Homeless Youth: A Community Artistâ€™s Collaborative Study Since youth are generally marginalized in society, especially homeless youth, creating community-based activist art can play an important role in guiding them through personal and social transformation. This population is challenged with many obstacles, including housing, educational rights and their physical and mental health. My study explored the positive benefits of collaborative activist art making and the various roles I played as a community artist. The questions that are central to my study are: How does the art making process in a community-based activist art context promote personal growth for homeless youth and engage them in social change?; How will a collaborative art project create opportunities for participation and reflection for both the homeless youth participants and their target audience?; and, What aspects of my role as a community artist will support me in understanding the function of art making in community-based art activism with homeless youth? In supporting my research questions I conducted my study with a homeless youth activist group for a continuous eight weeks at a community youth center in Chicago, Illinois. The homeless youth participants varied in age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and experienced different living situations. Weekly sessions were dedicated to creating visual, written, musical, and performance pieces, as well as social activist activities. This work cumulated in a homeless youth activist art show targeting policy makers and housed adults. I investigated my research questions through the methods of action research and collaborative inquiry. Because of the unpredictable and fragile situations homeless youth experience, these methods of engagement allowed for open exchanges between participants and myself and opportunities for creative participation. A key concept in the practice of community-based activist art is that the value lies in the process rather than the end product. The homeless youth acknowledged obstacles in their lives through the process of various art-making practices and presented them to the public to raise social and political awareness. My study explored alternative social and educational avenues through activist art making and collaboration that increased youthâ€™s confidence and encouraged them to participate as agents of social change. The public developed awareness of the homeless youthâ€™s needs and prompted them to take action. My actions as a community artist were central during this study. The numerous roles I identified will be supportive in my professional development as a community artist, educator, advocate, and mentor.
Meredith Eastburn Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: B ecoming What You Practice: Re-Framing the Dynamic Work and Roles of Teaching Artists Funders, bureaucrats, and administrators regularly seek evidence of student growth from art programs. What about the teaching artists responsible for creating those art experiences? As a self-proclaimed artist-advocate interested in artists’ opportunities, support-structures, and ways of thinking and working, I wanted to learn how teaching impacts or informs an artistic practice, and visa versa. Primarily, I asked: what is the nature of the relationship that emerges between a teaching artist’s art practice and teaching practice? I explored how teaching artists identify themselves vis-à-vis the particular roles of artist and teacher. From there, I asked where the fundamental roles of artist, teacher, and learner overlap in teaching artists’ work. Finally, I studied their ways of thinking and working by examining theories-of-practice they have developed as philosophical guideposts for their work. During the summer and fall of 2009, I joined three Chicago artists at a variety of educational settings where they worked with ranging populations. Using the art-based research approach of a/r/tography, my methodology combined phenomenological interviews and participatory observations through a process entailing multi-media documentation, reflection through blogging, and a final project in the form of an interactive installation. Working in the spirit of the contemporary art theories of relational and connective aesthetics, I explored the meaning-making practices of teaching artists through a participatory process in which I became a learner, artist, and teacher myself; thus, I have attempted to understand what it means to be a teaching artist by developing my own multi-modal, reflexive, creative practice. I found that the relationships between teaching and artmaking practices vary from positive and complementary, to negative and conflicting, to neutral and grounded in practicality. No single answer exists to my inquiry; instead, the relationships arising between these practices are quite personal and elastic. Teaching artists’ conceptions of their own identity and the roles they privilege—as artist, educator, learner, researcher— frame how they view and value their work. Ascribing both to the idea that the core of a teaching practice stems from an educator’s identity and to the self-fulfilling prophesy that one becomes what one practices, I contend that teaching artistry forms a cycle of being, making, sharing, and becoming. Instead of framing a discussion of teaching artists’ practices in terms of separation or even balance, I suggest that we reconsider teaching artistry as an integrated practice in which teaching becomes an art practice and art becomes inextricably socially engaged.
Justin Barnes Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: A rt Teacher Stories: Exploring Pedagogy Through Cross Comparative Critical Reflections This thesis explores how three public high school art teachers have synthesized elements of their teaching. I seek to provide a fresh outlook on how teacher’s can improve their teaching practice. The use of information from discussions, observations and interviews with the three art teachers, their students, colleagues and former students provide unique perspectives of their teaching practices. A teacher is often confronted with uncertainties, frustrations, apprehensions, misperceptions, and he or she must transform these feelings into meaning and value for their students. The challenges teachers endure inside and outside the classroom provide an opportunity for critical reflections, which can result in a space where research facilitates new understandings. I chose to study specific areas of each teacher’s practice that are guided by three questions. How do the cultural differences between the instructor and students affect classroom management? How does a high school art teacher with over twenty years of classroom teaching experience continue to improve her practice and work to advance the profession? How does an art teacher’s personal identity and life experiences affect student’s lives and education? To address these questions, in 2009, I traveled to each of the art teacher’s high schools where I conducted observations, discussions and interviews. The majority of my data collection was done through the lens of a video camera because I want a lasting portrait of the teacher’s physical practice, theories and thoughts along with their students, and colleagues, and I want allow the opportunity for in-depth reflections. Through the cross comparisons, critiquing and interpretation of the complex interplay of practices, filtered through my lens as a teacher, I was granted new insights into my practice. My research offers insights into how a teacher’s personal presence can affect a student’s performance in the classroom, and I show how building rapport with your high school students should be a teacher’s first objective. This, coupled with the importance of a mentor in a teacher’s life, can benefit everyone in the educational environment. My expectations are to contribute to the work of teachers who strive to improve their practice, and in turn, to help shape the future of their students.
Manuel F. Sanchez Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: Art with Traning Wheels: A Unique Approach to Adult Art Education This research is based on the investigation and application of practical art instruction methods in the field of adult art education. The process of learning through art-making is discussed from the perspective of an instructor as a means of overcoming challenges within the education of adults. The observations of this project took place over a three month period. Class participants were of a mature age group with a wide range of diversity in both art and life experiences. Many of the students had a fixed perspective of their capabilities. As a whole, while they were open to the learning process the students lacked the confidence and foundational skills to be able to apply the techniques they were learning properly. I discuss other obstacles to the learning process such as class duration, instructor time management, both student and instructor expectations, and the communal learning process. In this particular class, process based learning that focused on physical manipulation of various image-making techniques was the primary method of instruction. Technical demonstrations and time-based projects were also utilized, though to a lesser degree. This project surrounds the discovery of the use of simple tools such as tracing and graphite transfer paper in art practices to reduce the â€œfear factorâ€? involved in a beginnerâ€™s art exploration. This research calls attention to what might be overlooked as a significant form of learning in adults. By appearing to shortcut foundational drawing techniques and relying on the tracing paper as a guide, students were confident enough to attempt regular free hand drawing techniques on their own. The students were surprisingly overwhelmed by their success in creating finished work that they were pleased with. This in turn increased their confidence and self-reliance. The students began to participate in the learning process actively with the some other students by helping and inspiring each other, while others began to utilize other mediums independent of the instructor. This particular process based approach was utilized as a means of encouraging the students to release their expectations of the outcome of the act of creation by focusing on the importance of the process. With a more deliberate approach of these tools in a structured class environment, the hope was to build confidence and explore freedom in the art-making process while breaking down barriers in adult education to begin a transformative dialogue between the student and art instructor.
Meaghan Burritt Program: Master of Arts in Teaching Title: L ocal Place, Site-specific Methods, and the Personal Narrative: An Intersection of Critical Possibilities The term â€œurban public high schoolâ€? encompasses a range of meanings that are linked not only to the built environment or natural habitat, but also to the internal: the social, cultural, economical, political and historical narratives of the students and their school community. These narratives come in many forms, such as oral and written, exposed and hidden, national and local, and play an integral role in how studentsâ€™ define their daily environment. In the context of an urban school, my research project invited students to explore the meanings they ascribe to local place. My research asked: what occurs when students transform personal narratives into a visual form? How does student site-specific research bring into question the meaning of local place; and in what ways is this form of cultural production a source of empowerment for students? As a critical educator and artist, I invited students from Jade, a predominantly Latino and African American high school, to examine the intersection between local place and personal experience. In the computer imaging and sculpture classes, students used mapping and writing as research tools. They investigated their pathways to and from school and surrounding areas by generating word lists and exploring memory associations. With these research methods, students translated their perspectives of local place into short stop-motion animations and/or ceramic sculptures. Most importantly, students used the above creative processes to explore voice and personal geographies. Throughout my research project, student voice and perspective played a major role in the investigation of power and local place in the public school classroom. I advocated for a democratic learning space where students were encouraged to become equal participants in the construction of knowledge. Maintaining a democratic classroom proved to be a challenge due to the institutional pressure many teachers, students, and staff face on a daily basis. At Jade High School, this pressure stems from the need to uphold standards, achieve high enrollment, and maintain a safe environment in a school where closure, turnaround, and violence are potential realities. Besides these challenges, I found that adapting my teaching with student input and interests created empowering experiences in the art classroom. In the future, I suggest designing curriculum along with students as a way to incorporate their voice in the practice of emancipatory art education.
Junko Sano Program: Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) Title: T hat’s Not My Name: Exploring Cultural Identity and Critiquing Stereotypes Through Book-Making Using action research and practice-based research methods, I explored students’ perceptions of culture, and how culture shapes their perceptions of self. My research focused on art making as a means of creating a safe after-school place for elementary students. I was also interested in the ways in which our respective understandings of culture impacted the exchange between a Japanese teacher and Mexican American students. The context for my project was a non-profit organization located in a primarily Latino community within a major metropolitan area. The activities included a series of art projects that introduced Japanese culture, language, and art; for example, mask making and creating an accordion book. Another project involved telling Japanese and Mexican stories, in order to discover similarities and differences between the two cultures. I chose these projects because they provided opportunities for students to experience Japanese culture, and for me to be in communication and relationship with the students. The accordion book evolved through a series of projects in which the students explored their perception of their own identities, using their names, favorite things, and aspirations to design a personal symbol that became their “signature.” At each stage, students were given brainstorming worksheets to help organize their ideas. Through art projects and interviews, we considered the meaning of each student’s name; how names could be interpreted through book making; how stereotypes and names that others call us influence our perceptions of self. Using technology-based research methods, I created a video about this experience, interpreting the relationship and understanding between a teacher and students whose cultural backgrounds differed radically. As a result, I found many points of both cultural identification and difference. I considered the following data: the students’ artwork, my own reflective journaling, and group interviews with my students about their projects. I sought to better understand two central themes: what students learned about their own cultures and cultural identities, and what they learned about the culture of Japan and consequently, about me. Visual representation of the data provided a useful way to analyze and interpret the complexity of our exchange. Using images and words proved especially important in interpreting misunderstandings and stereotypes that my students and I brought to the class. I learned that arts-based research methods contributed to my communication and dialogue with students, and this process proved to be the most important aspect of creating relationships and fostering a safe place.
Thank You to the department of art education faculty and staff Faculty Joy L. Bivins Jim Elniski Craig Harshaw Jerry Hausman Andres Hernandez Drea Howenstein Rebecca Keller Nicole Marroquin Giselle Mercier Angela Paterakis Patricia Pelletier Sharon Pelletier John Ploof Therese Quinn David Rodriguez Karyn Sandlos Jerry Stefl Ray Yang
Staff Isak Applin Tenesha Edwards Jessie Terry Thanks also to: SAIC Office of the Deans and Division Chairs; Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director, Gene Siskel Film Center
Program design: Caitlin Ostrow Cover photo: “A Conversation” by Molly Nolan