The Arts in Society Journal Collection offers an annual International Award for Excellence for new research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of The Arts in Society Research Network.
This article examines ways in which real issues in contemporary society can be addressed in art education classrooms, from upper elementary grades through higher education. Classroom projects incorporate zines, “artist pages,” and mixed-media three-dimensional works of art focused on information, advocacy, or protest, with a goal of transformative learning. Curricula utilize methods and outcomes based on critical and design thinking for communication of progressive socio-cultural and political ideas in visual and written form. In addition, the authors view a progressive perspective, also defined as “left” in traditional political polarity (Bienfait and Beeka 2014), as the most compatible with constitutional democracy in the United States. Themes, hands-on curriculum, and socially engaged fact-based research on issues such as environmental problems, healthcare, class warfare, or global warming, for example, are key to successful production of art that communicates and supports critical engagement. The tools, materials, and processes discussed in this article and the artworks produced by students represent new understandings as well as transferable and transdisciplinary skill sets that are imperative for the twenty-first-century global citizen.
Teaching visual literacy is a critical component of 21st century education. Students may become agents of social change through visual literacy as it empowers them to engage in transformative experiences, personally and/or artistically. We believe that socially and culturally relevant content is essential in all disciplines - and in particular the art classroom - from preschool through higher education, in order to help students develop empathy and consciousness of global inequities. As facilitators of trans-disciplinary learning, we seek to support our students’ investigations into contemporary topics that are meaningful to them on a personal level, while rooted in fact-based inquiry and research. This type of curriculum begins with students’ prior knowledge, engaging technology for information and visual material, then utilizes a constructivist methodology to assist students in developing and mastering technical skills, with final application of such content-based images and objects. This pedagogical and philosophical core serves as both a place for transformative learning and a call to action for our students, to live as advocates for meaningful visual experiences, to go beyond the surface in their own art-making, and for those who will become teachers, in the designing of curriculum for their future students.
—Dr. Kristin Vanderlip Taylor and Dr. Lynette K. Henderson
Courtney Davis, The International Journal of Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp. 25–30
Sally Cloke, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp. 1–18
Joseph Basile, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.11–30
Dawn-joy Leong, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.29–39
Cherie Redwood, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.221–234
Annette Blum, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.13–32
Marque-Luisa Miringoff and Sandra Opdycke, The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.141–168