Study # 2

Interpretations of Findings and Conclusion

One of the most valuable lessons I learned through this study is that there is more to the profession of teaching art to adults than simply being an excellent artist. Through narrative inquiry using four teaching artists, I found that each participant has their individual styles and approaches to teaching adults art making.  Each participant has a strong passion for the art form they teach, knowledge of the medium, and they showed complete confidence personally and professionally. I also discovered that their mentor(s) and life experiences had an effect on their teaching methods and their desire to teach adults.

To summarize several of the teaching artists’ approaches, the participants shared with me are: to encourage their adult student’s art making, growing their student’s interest in that particular medium, building relationships, make meaningful connections with culture and life experiences, and the teaching artists aim to align their art instruction with what the adult learner wants.  Also, it was great to explore the various ways these participants foster art making with their adult students in the different platforms of learning. “With many different providers, there are multiple, sometimes competing purposes for adult arts education.” (Kerka, 2003).

Today, we are bombarded, connected, and “on-demand” with the world through television, social media, and the World Wide Web, we easily spend our days consuming these informational inputs. Creating art allows us to respond to them. This study is not intended to be a recipe for teaching adult studio classes, nor advocate one method over another. The participants shared several approaches, characteristics, and qualities that work for them in the adult art making classroom.  Mainly, these are attributes you find in all good art teachers, such as intelligence, social awareness, and the love of art. All of the participants are kind, approachable and accomplished teaching artists. They place their students at the center of their instruction.       

They praise, support, and encourage their students. They use a direct approach to teaching, where students proceed in incremental steps under the guidance of them and offering a solution to problems. In all scenarios, the teaching artists provide structure, direction, and supportive teaching because the students want clarification of what they need to learn. Adult learners have a reservoir of life experiences and are independent thinkers, so they already know why they want to learn. Seeing a student progress and succeed professionally in the art world can be just as empowering for the student as to the teacher.


By using a large range of teaching artists I learned various perspectives and approaches that they practice when teaching art making to adults.  The variety of instructional settings allowed me to compare and contrast the different teaching platforms, as well as the teaching artists’ unique experiences. One similarity these teaching artists share, no matter what their delivery of instruction or setting may be, and it may be key, is, they all use approaches to encourage the adult learner to bring art making and creativity into their student’s lives.

I feel that research into the experiences of teaching artist’s approaches could be expanded in the future. I recommend a more comprehensive pool of participants from varied educational platforms, including museums, and on-line instruction.  We live in a global and mult-cultural world, to have a larger field to explore would allow me to gain a better understanding of how I can inspire, encourage, and meet the needs of all the adult art makers I teach.


Study #1 The Underrepesentation of Women in Art History

Study #1


            Women are underrepresented in art history. They have been omitted, hidden, and excluded in the earlier years, but specifically, before 1970 and the women’s movement. In the literature review, I cite Whitney Chadwick (2007) as explaining how Pliny the Elder mentioned several women in his encyclopedia written and published circa 77-79AD.

            If those women were worthy of mention in his encyclopedia, certainly it should not be hard to find information on them. However, their works have been sidelined.  Despite extensive research I could not find information on five of the six women artists. Their works are lost. I began to see a pattern throughout the centuries. Not much has apparently changed from Pliny’s encyclopedia to now.

            Women from ancient times to post World War I have abided many social restraints. While I recognize the injustice and the underrepresentation, there isn’t too much we can do about it now. Today, women have equal rights, equal opportunities to education, and exhibits. Many social barriers have been eliminated for women artists today; however the study demonstrates statistically that there remains a considerable discrepancy in the representation of women in galleries, museums and contemporary text books. The underrepresentation of women artist has had a cascading effect on woman’s issues throughout the years. Their economic status has traveled with them.  Irrational prejudices still exist. Distorted market values have been perpetuated. Women are still denied equal promotion even though they have the same opportunities as men. What can we do about it?

            We can start supporting women artists by buying their art and attending their gallery or museum openings. Given that at least half the art students are female, art educators could better attend to the needs of young female artists. Also, all students would benefit through the inclusion of more women artists in the curriculum. We ought to create and implement classroom models that expose some of the unrecognized women artists in art history and reject the patriarchal canon curriculum.  Providing a more balanced and just art history course, a course in which men and women in art history are not subordinated to each other, would go a long way to furthering this objective.  That’s why this research is essential. It trains the trainer.

Implications and Recommendations for Further Research

            The results of this study imply that the field of art history needs to better meet the needs of all art history students. The following recommendations are derived from the participant’s stories and are grounded in their experiences. The findings in this investigation offer a variety of suggestions for those in the field of art history, museum educators, and the general public. Some recommendations are linked to feminist teaching approaches to art history.  These include more contemporary art practices, social context and lives of artists.

            In addition to this research, I discovered a particular women artist that remains unknown, but has earned the distinction of a major contributor of the American Abstract Expressionist Movement.  Janet Sobel is the first known drip artist the early Twentieth Century and has received no to very limited amount of credit for her contributions. It is said that Jackson Pollock saw Sobel’s work at the Guggenheim Museum and he admittedly was directly inspired and influenced by her works exhibited at the museum (Biography of Jackson Pollock , 2011).The level of influence she may have had on Pollock’s prosperous and vital career is certainly worthy of future inquiries.

            Some of the participants in this study reported that they did not have any women artists in their formal education curriculum. This finding suggests that not long ago, women artists were excluded from the art history curriculum. As well as being unaware of many women artists in history, most of the participants did not learn about contemporary artists’ work, lives or contemporary artistic practices during their art history education. This finding suggests that students might be better served if educators taught them about living artists as well. It is important that art historians bear in mind that art isn’t only about the past.

            Educators ought to consider making it a regular part of their curriculum to invite local artists into the classroom and arrange studio visits so students could hear first-hand about artists’ struggles and accomplishments. In addition, teachers might contact area museums to develop collaborative programs where artists in residence could engage students with projects in the classroom and in the museum that connect to the institution’s collections and temporary exhibitions.

            If educators are to employ the recommendations related to art history and contemporary art they must be provided with the appropriate curriculum resources to do so. Therefore, it is important to the field of art history to continue to develop resources in the form of reproductions, slides or digital images, DVDs and books that help instructors present (not lecture) a broader, deeper, and more inclusive understanding of art and the artists of the past and present.                

            Finally, we need to accept that we can’t fix the past. It is not reparations for women artists that we ought to seek.  Most of their works are gone and much of history was written without hearing their voice. However, we can acknowledge the errors of the past, educate the youth, and lend our support to the woman artist of the present.



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Latest comments

31.10 | 18:33

Great job from Yolanda AND Norma

18.10 | 03:33

The purpose of art is not simply to be shocking. Any homeless streetperson can do that. The purpose of art must be higher and remain higher than the gutter.

11.10 | 12:45

ive didn't read all the articles but what I read are very affective

20.09 | 14:39

There is clearly a need for Women's movement.

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