A Review on Olivia Gude, Doug Blandy and Patricia Stuhr
Art education has evolved to bring significant meaning to students through content and practice. Doing so validates art in the school curriculum. Authors Olivia Gude, Doug Blandy and Patricia Stuhr have all proposed pedagogies that offer meaningful experiences for students in the art classroom and validation of art educational practice on campuses throughout. By participating with material culture, exploring thematic content, and dealing with relevant ideas and problems, the authors deliver specific approaches that will contribute to the individual reaching their full potential. Their aims are to help the student define meaning individually and collectively, able to responsibly function within a democratic environment.
For Gude the focus tends to rely on Lowenfeldian approaches in educational practice. Engaging in quality art education, students create, “…the capacity to see and sense the complexity of oneself. Arts education develops the capacity for nuanced and eloquent articulation of experience, for developing the methods by which self and shared meaning is made” (Gude, 2009, p. 3). She concludes that in becoming art educated and artistically self actualized, one is able to develop empathy towards various worldviews and perspectives while activating personal meaning and a creative imagination (Gude, 2009).
Blandy specifies a threefold approach utilizing the participatory nature of art materials, themes of sustainability and the performance of art education within a democratic model. With cultural movements in digital media, individuals are no longer required to possess formal accolades or degrees to be qualified as an expert in proficiency or artistry. Age is of little significance and one’s followers dependent upon reputation and formation through interest and connectivity with the artists work. In these networks, “Free Agent Learners” gain experience and knowledge using digital media daily in and outside of the classroom (Blandy, 2011, p. 249). In organizing the Digital Media and Learning Conference, 2010, Henry Jenkins aided studies into the behavior of people ages 13-28 engaged with technology. Blandy states, “Because there is a close relationship between participatory culture and immersion in digital media and social networking through electronic forums, he (Jenkins) often focuses on children and youth because of their facility with technology” (p. 249). Digital formats beckon engagement. Younger generations are naturally proficient in these modes of creation, dissemination and exploration. Understanding new swings in youth culture are valuable to integrating relevant meaningful content into the classroom.
Stuhr focuses on the important cultural themes also relevant to student’s lives. Her goal is developing “social justice” and a subsequent understanding of the world for the student (Stuhr, 2003, p. 303). Emphasizing pertinent issues, controversial topics and exploring challenging ideas, like her predecessor, Art Educator Vincent Lanier, Stuhr sees art education as a means of social influence (Lanier, 1969). Stuhr supports empowering students to articulate and even tool art with cultural themes to infuse meaning and bring about changes in one’s thinking. “Art education, like all subjects, should be connected intimately to students' lives; therefore, curriculum, because of this connection to student life and their worlds, should be thought of as an ongoing process and not a product” (p. 303). Stuhr highlights the process of learning as of greater importance than the artifacts produced.
Blandy introduces sustainability as beneficial for art exploration. Sustainability primarily deals with “place” and has influence on our population’s perceptions, activity and the function of art in society. Including cultural, social and environmental themes, sustainability explores shared identity, fosters understanding human imprints, ways of life and artifacts. Blandy aims to create responsible citizens engaged in preserving, honoring and changing their surroundings for the betterment of all, concepts vital to a democratic society.
In quality art education students experience a dual mode of awareness and understanding (Gude, 2009, p. 1). Gude identifies that students engage in using their inner perceptions coupled with promptings from the outer world. For example, in looking at clouds or inkblots and using their imagination to envision alterations from the actual form, a student becomes integrated with the artistic process. Gude explains, “This is neither a journey to an isolated inner self nor an out-of-this-world trip, but the developed capacity to be aware of a self process through which one vividly notices and interacts with a world of objects and ideas” (Gude, 2009, p. 1). Gude further employs the importance of empathy, the act of relating to another’s experience and understanding the varying and often different viewpoints of others. In forming our own opinions, they may differ or coincide with another’s. Empathetic understanding is essential to the democratic process. Gude states, “…to be a truly democratic society we must persist in our individual and collective investigations of possibility; we must remain committed to thoughtfully engaging each other in our endeavors to make meaning and to make meaningful lives together“ (Gude, 2009, p. 5).
Stuhr ultimately aims for an individual who appreciates and understands cultural diversity. To Stuhr, culture study provides values, explores patterns and beliefs that bring meaning to a person and life’s ever-changing dynamics (Stuhr, 2003, p. 303). Culture and curriculum should be integrated and modeled for students as it will “...enable them to enjoy life and prepare them to be independent, yet socially responsible individuals and informed and critical citizens” (p. 304). Imperative are individuals who actively participate in a world where social justice is realized. Social justice is achieved when the individual reaches their full potential in human practice and honoring the collective and individual worth of a pluralistic society. Sturh believes this is done by, “…the investigation of social and cultural issues from multiple personal, local, national, and global perspectives” (p. 303).
Critical Response/Application/Personal Reflection
In exploring cultural themes, I would like to teach on a selfie project. I would like to see the students investigate the standardization of beauty, identity and self-image within a contemporary cultural context. I would challenge the students to explore the reality of human vulnerabilities and insecurities in being the author and subject of an image. Students could reconcile perceptions with the need for empathetic understanding of others and acceptance of self. Students would explore what culture says about beauty and identity as opposed to our natural and deeper personas. I would challenge students to consider rethinking their personal stances on world standards of aesthetics, beauty and identity stereotypes and our attitudes towards others of a different physical, cultural or social make up. Students would explore the use of apparel and how identifiers are formed because of represented fashion choices. Lastly, my students could uncover commonalities that we all face as individuals in society that lead to looking at people with discrimination, rejection, bullying, favorability, popularity and acceptance, producer and recipient. I would reference Dawoud Bey’s Class Picture series (Bey, 2007) and the Dove Selfie Project (Dove United States, 2014) for motivations, inspiration and modifications. Challenges include, provision of adequate technology, overcrowded classes, and some students being uncomfortable in self-portrayal or exhibition of self-imagery. I would seek the use of personal cell phone photography, shared technology among peers, allowing students to produce image ideas at home, (not limited to the classroom) and encourage engagement by modifying the assignment if needed and using inspirational sources (portrait of another person and/or inspiration from aforementioned sources).
Bey, D. (2008). Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey. Milwaukee Art Museum. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http://mam.org/bey/gallery.htm
Blandy, D. (2011). Sustainability, participatory culture, and the performance of democracy: Ascendant sites of theory and practice in art education. Studies in Art Education, 52(3), 243-255. Retrieved from http://www.arteducators.org/research/studies
Dove United States. (2014, January 19). Selfie. YouTube. Retrieved 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFkm1Hg4dTI
Gude, O. (2009). Art education for democratic life. Paper presented at the NAEA Lowenfeld Lecture, . Retrieved from www.arteducators.org/research/2009_LowenfeldLecture_OliviaGude.pdf
Lanier, V. (1969). The Teaching of Art as Social Revolution. The Phi Delta Kappan,
50(6), 314-319. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20372341
Stuhr, P. L. (2003). A tale of why social and cultural content is often excluded from art education: And why it should not be. Studies in Art Education, 44(4), 301-314. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1321019
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