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ERIC Number: EJ897402
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-0004-3125
An Inevitable Question: Exploring the Defining Features of Social Justice Art Education
Dewhurst, Marit
Art Education, v63 n5 p6-13 Sep 2010
"What do you really mean by social justice art education?" This question constantly causes confusion among not only the students, but also the educators, researchers, and artists working at the intersection of art, education, and social justice. The labels for this work come in many shapes, among them, activist art, community-based arts, new public art, art for social change, and community cultural development. Despite these various names, this work often shares a commitment to create art that draws attention to, mobilizes action towards, or attempts to intervene in systems of inequality or injustice. And yet, in a field with growing numbers of social justice arts organizations and the accompanying conferences, special journal issues, and edited books, the very definition of what is meant by social justice art education remains elusive. Some variation in nomenclature can be attributed to the multiple disciplinary lenses--from art history and anthropology to community development and public policy--that have been used to analyze this work. However, hidden in this tenuous terminology are competing visions about the very nature of social justice art education. Such differences appear to hinge on three main debates: (1) how strategic the artistic and activist decisions are in relation to their potential to effectively change policy; (2) what constitutes activism or social change; and (3) if emphasis is placed on the process or the product of artmaking. Social justice education in the arts is a practice--an evolving, iterative process. As critical pedagogy scholars write, social justice education is a way of teaching that seeks liberation for all people. As such, the means--as much as the end product--are integral to make a work of art "activist" or "social justice" in nature. While people often assume that social justice art education must be based on controversial or overtly political issues (i.e. race, violence, discrimination, etc.), this is not always the case. Rather, as long as the "process" of making art offers participants a way to construct knowledge, critically analyze an idea, and take action in the world, then they are engaged in a practice of social justice artmaking. In this article, the author discusses three dimensions--connecting, questioning, and translating--that constitute a pedagogy of activist artmaking that sheds light on the educational significance of creating art for social justice. (Contains 4 figures and 2 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A