Art education in the United States

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Adult art class at the Brooklyn Museum in 1935.

Art education in the United States reflects the social values of American culture. Apprenticeship was once the norm and the main sense, however with the democratization of education, particularly as promoted by educational philosopher John Dewey, opportunities have greatly expanded. Elliot Eisner has been an influential advocate for the benefits of art in the schools.

Enrollment in art classes at the high school elective level peaked in the late 1960s—early 1970s with that period's emphasis on individuals expressing uniqueness. Currently 'art(s) magnet schools', available in many larger communities, use art(s) as a core or underlying theme to attract those students motivated by personal interest or with the intention of becoming a professional or commercial artist. It is widely reported that the arts are losing instruction time in school based upon budget cuts in combination with increasing test-based assessments of children which the federal government's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act requires. It is worth noting that while the NCLB retains the arts as part of the "core curriculum" for all schools, it does not require reporting any instruction time or assessment data for arts education content or performance standards, which is reason often cited for the decline or possible decline of arts education in American public schools.

The funding for education in USA comes from three levels; local level, state level and federal level. The whole system of education is kept in the hands of public sector for control and to avoid any mishandling.[1] Recently, the U.S. Department of Education began awarding Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grants to support organizations with art expertise in their development of artistic curricula that helps students to better understand and retain academic information. One such model of education was created in 2006 by the Storytellers Inc. and ArtsTech (formerly Pan-Educational Institute). The curricula and method of learning is titled AXIS[2]

The Picture Study Movement, before 1930[edit]

The study of art appreciation in America began with the Picture Study Movement in the late 19th century and began to fade at the end of the 1920s. Picture study was an important part of the art education curriculum. Attention to the aesthetics in classrooms led to public interest in beautifying the school, home, and community, which was known as “Art in Daily Living”. The idea was to bring culture to the child to change the parents.[3]

Picture study was made possible by the improved technologies of reproduction of images, growing public interest in art, the Progressive Movement in education, and growing numbers of immigrant children who were more visually literate than they were in English. The type of art included in the curriculum was from the Renaissance onward, but nothing considered “modern art” was taught. Often, teachers selected pictures that had a moral message. This is because a major factor in the development in aesthetics as a subject was its relationship to the moral education of the new citizens due to the influx of immigrants during the period. Aesthetics and art masterpieces were part of the popular idea of self culture, and the moralistic response to an artwork was within the capabilities of the teacher, who often did not have the artistic training to discuss the formal qualities of the artwork.

A typical Picture Study lesson was as follows: Teachers purchased materials from the Perry Picture Series, for example. This is similar to the prepackaged curriculum we have today. These materials included a teacher’s picture that was larger for the class to look at together, and then smaller reproduction approximately 2 ¾” by 2” for each child to look at. These were generally in black and white or sepia tone. Children would often collect these cards and trade them much like modern day baseball cards. The teacher would give the students a certain amount of information about the picture and the artist who created it, such as the picture’s representational content, artist’s vital statistics, and a few biographical details about the artist. These were all included in the materials so an unskilled teacher could still present the information to his or her class. Then the teacher would ask a few discussion questions. Sometimes suggestions for language arts projects or studio activities were included in the materials.

The picture study movement died out at the end of the 1920s as a result of new ideas regarding learning art appreciation through studio work became more popular in the United States.

Since WWII[edit]

Since World War II, artist training has become the charge of colleges and universities and contemporary art has become an increasingly academic and intellectual field. Prior to World War II an artist did not need a college degree. Since that time the Bachelor of Fine Arts and then the Master of Fine Arts became recommended degrees to be a professional artist, necessities facilitated by "the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944, which sent a wave of World War II veterans off to school, art school included. University art departments quickly expanded. American artists who might once have studied at bohemian, craft-intensive schools like the Art Students League as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee Bontecou, Al Held, Eva Hesse, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly and hundreds of others did or Black Mountain College as John Chamberlain, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, and others did or the Hans Hofmann School of Art in Greenwich Village whose students included Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and Larry Rivers among others; began enrolling at universities instead. By the 60s, The School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, and Cooper Union in New York City and other art schools across the country like the Kansas City Art Institute, the San Francisco Art Institute, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as Princeton and Yale had emerged as the leading American art academies; its alums included Roxy Paine, Robert Mapplethorpe, Beverly Pepper, Lee Krasner, R.B. Kitaj, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Elizabeth Peyton, Joseph Kosuth, Dan Christensen, Peter Reginato, Robert Graham, Michael Heizer, Ronald Davis, Karen Finley, Jason Rhoades, Ronnie Landfield, Elizabeth Murray, Claes Oldenburg, Leon Golub, Jeff Koons, Joan Jonas, Ellsworth Kelly, Larry Poons, Frank Stella, Michael Fried, Walter Darby Bannard, Chuck Close, Brice Marden, Richard Serra, Eva Hesse, Jennifer Bartlett, John Currin, and Robert Mangold, making it seem as if every hip artist in New York was obligated to have a college degree or an Ivy League degree."[4] This trend spread from the United States around the world.

Currently, the PhD in studio art is under debate as the new standard as the terminal degree in the arts. Although in 2008 there are only two United States programs offering a PhD in studio art, "10 universities offer the degree in Australia, and it is ubiquitous in the UK, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and other countries. It is already expected for a teaching job in Malaysia." [5] As James Elkins, the chair of the department of art history, theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the chair of the department of art history at the University of Cork in Ireland wrote in Art in America, "By the 1960s the MFA was ubiquitous. Now the MFA is commonplace and the PhD is coming to take its place as the baseline requirement for teaching jobs."[6] This is in reference to teaching positions for studio art at the college level. The Ph.D. degree has been a standard requirement to be a professor of art education for many years. In his forthcoming book, "Artists with PhD's", James Elkins (art critic) presents the opinion the PhD will become the new standard, and offers the book as a resource for assessing these programs and for structuring future programs. However, the College Art Association still recognizes the MFA as the terminal degree, stating "At this time, few institutions in the United States offer a PhD degree in studio art, and it does not appear to be a trend that will continue or grow, or that the PhD will replace the MFA." [7]

Discipline-Based Art Education - early 1980s[edit]

Discipline-based art education (DBAE) is an educational program formulated by the J. Paul Getty Trust in the early 1980s. DBAE supports a diminished emphasis on studio instruction, and instead promotes education across four disciplines within the arts: aesthetics, art criticism, art history and art production. It does retain a strong tie to studio instruction with an emphasis on technique.[8] Among the objectives of DBAE are to make arts education more parallel other academic disciplines, and to create a standardized framework for evaluation. It was developed specifically for grades K-12 but has been instituted at other levels of education. DBAE advocates that art should be taught by certified teachers, and that "art education is for all students, not just those who demonstrate talent in making art." [9]

Criticism of DBAE is voiced from postmodern theorists who advocate for a more pluralistic view of the arts, and inclusion of a diverse range of viewpoints that may not be included in a standardized curriculum.

National organizations[edit]

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) [10] is one of the many nationally recognized organizations promoting arts education in the United States. Since its formation in 1965, the NEA has led efforts in integrating the arts as a part of the core education for all K-12 students. These efforts include collaborating in state, federal, and public-private partnerships to solicit and provide funding and grants for programs in arts education. During the 2008 fiscal year, the NEA awarded over 200 grants totaling $6.7 million to programs that allow students to engage and participate in learning with skilled artists and teachers. The NEA has initiated a number of other arts education partnerships and initiatives which include

  • The Arts Education Partnership (AEP)[11] AE'P convenes forums to discuss topics in arts education, publishes research materials supporting the role of arts education in schools, and is a clearinghouse for arts education resource materials.
  • The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP)[12] is an ongoing, online survey system will collect, track, and disseminate data on alumni, and will help institutions to better understand how students use arts training in their careers and other aspects of their lives.
  • The NEA Education Leaders Institute (ELI)[13] convenes key decision makers to enhance the quality and quantity of arts education at the state level. Each institute gathers teams of school leaders, legislators, policymakers, educators, professional artists, consultants, and scholars from up to five states to discuss a shared arts education challenge and engage in strategic planning to advance arts education in their respective states.

There are a variety of other National organizations promoting arts education in the United States. These include Americans for the Arts[14] which features major projects such as The Arts. Ask For More.[15] national arts education public awareness campaign, Association for the Advancement of Arts Education, College Art Association;[16] and National Art Education Association.[17]

Arts integration[edit]

Main article: Arts integration

Arts integration is another and/or alternative way for the arts to be taught within schools.[citation needed] Arts integration is the combining of the visual and/or performing arts and incorporating them into the everyday curriculum within classrooms.[citation needed] Arts integration is especially important today when some schools no longer have or have small arts education programs because it allows for the arts to still be taught and used.[citation needed] Learning in a variety of ways allows for students to use their eight multiple intelligences as described by theorist Howard Gardner in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The eight multiple intelligences include bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal,linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, naturalist, and spatial.[18][original research?]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "education in USA". What is USA News. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  2. ^ AXIS - Education Revolution
  3. ^ Smith, Peter (1986,Sept.) The Ecology of Picture Study, Art Education[48-54].
  4. ^ "How to Succeed in Art" by Deborah Solomon, New York Times Magazine. June 27, 1999
  5. ^ "Art Schools: A Group Crit," p. 108. Art In America, May 2007.
  6. ^ "Art Schools: A Group Crit," p. 109. Art In America, May 2007.
  7. ^ College Art Association. "Standards and Guidelines | College Art Association | CAA | Advancing the history, interpretation, and practice of the visual arts for over a century". Collegeart.org. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  8. ^ Neperud, Ronald W. Context, Content and Community in Art Education (1995)
  9. ^ Dobbs, Stephen Mark. Readings in Discipline Based Art Education (2000)
  10. ^ http://www.nea.gov/pub/ArtsLearning.pdf
  11. ^ Arts Education Partnership
  12. ^ "SNAAP: Strategic National Arts Alumni Project | Learning about the lives and careers of art graduates in America". Snaap.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  13. ^ http://www.nea.gov/grants/apply/RFP/RFP-ELI-6.pdf[dead link][dead link]
  14. ^ Americans for the Arts
  15. ^ Art. Ask For More.
  16. ^ The College Art Association
  17. ^ The National Art Education Association
  18. ^ Armstrong, T. (2009) Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

External links[edit]