Art Therapy and Art Education: An Essential Schism

Art Therapy and Art Education
An Essential Schism
Danielle Horak
University of Florida

Author Note

This paper was prepared to support a final project for ARE2049:0101 History of Teaching Art taught by Dr. Kushins.  The final creative project is in the form of an informative website located at

We need to talk.

During the 1960’s when my grandmother was working as an elementary teacher she would take her troubled student’s drawings to my aunt who was studying art psychotherapy.  My aunt would offer interpretations of the students’ work, plausible diagnoses and possible explanations for their behavior.  These results affected the way my grandmother dealt with students, sometimes leading to investigations of their safety or mental well being.  Though this informal exchange between art therapy and the classroom was common then, it would not meet today’s standards for ethical practice.  A separation between the fields of art education and art therapy was necessary to protect patients and students as well as therapists and educators.

Vincent Lanier’s 1969 article on “Schismogenesis in Contemporary Art Education” explains how advances in art education were made possible by differing approaches and philosophies within the field.  I argue that a similar schismogenesis distinguished art therapy as an occupation apart from art education and has offered new insights that have made the research and identity of both fields more robust.

I know we have history between us.

The origins of art therapy and art education are ancient (Rubin, 1999, p. 87), but we will begin tracing their relationship in the early twentieth century.  As Agell (1980) observes, the history of art therapy “is characterized by a rather long gestation period followed by a period of spectacular growth (p.3)”.  This growth occurred during the rise of progressive education when the encouragement of self-expression and student-centered teaching methods cultivated an environment in which art therapy grew (Rubin, 1999, p. 96).  Rooted in the ideals of Froebel’s kindergarten and the Montessori schools of Italy, the belief that a child’s desires mattered and that their actions were meaningful led to the first practices of art therapy (Rubin, 1999, p. 95).

In addition to its embrace of progressive education, the public was fascinated by art brut or outsider art, art made by those with no formal training or by the mentally ill (Cardinal, 1972).  Psychologists were especially interested in this artwork believing that it revealed information about the maker’s unconscious mind.  Rubin (1999) reveals how the interest garnered by these works made art therapy an especially attractive treatment for “those who have no words” such as mentally ill patients (p. 231).  As depth psychology emerged in the 1940’s, psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, Pierre Janet, and Carl Young were interested in the unconscious mind, and they believed that art was one way to tap into it (Rubin, 199, p. 90).  Their work influenced Viktor Lowenfeld and Herbert Read who advocated for the inclusion of art therapy in the classroom (Rubin, 1999, p. 96) and D’Amico (1943) praised art therapy as “one of the most significant developments in modern education (p. 9)”.  Art therapy and art education had a brief, blissful honeymoon during the early 1940s, but by the end of the decade, the quarreling had begun.

It’s not you, it’s me.

The presence of art therapy in art classrooms quickly provoked unrest.  Edward Rannells (1946) went so far as to call the inclusion of art therapy in the art classroom a “distortion and misuse of art in education (p. 36)”.  During the 1950s, art educators moved away from self expression and favored more structure in their lessons.  The sentiment was that art teachers should stick to what they know and not include the second hand practice of other fields in their lesson plans.  A grievance from Kaufman (1963) captures the mood: “the art room is often a ludicrous mixture of expert guidance from many fields. There is rich farce in hearing the art teacher conscientiously mouth the words of the psychologist (developmental growth, therapy, stereotype, norms, and so on)… (p. 18)”.

This shift forced art therapists to cling tightly to their roots in psychology, to conduct research, and to advocate for their field.  Naumburg (1955), often considered the grandmother of art education, helped shift the focus of art therapy away from classroom settings and onto its psychological origins by reminding therapists that “analytically oriented art therapy has become possible as a consequence of Freud’s achievement in recording the psychological mechanisms of unconscious response in man (p. 443)”.  With this reestablished foundation, art therapists wrapped up the 1950s no longer depending on the field of art education to provide settings for their practice.

The 60s were a coming of age decade for art therapy.  The field stood on its own, and the American Art Therapy Association (2013) was founded in 1969.  Following its founding, substantial research was conducted and guided by scholars such as Wadeson (1980) who developed new research methods, Kramer (1979) who helped identify both overlapping and unique functions of art education and art therapy, and Gantt (1998) who called for a more scientific approach to data collection and evaluation in art therapy. One misunderstanding that crept up as the field distinguished itself was the belief that art therapy focused on the process of making art while art education focused on the creative product.  This is an oversimplification of a complex overlap.  Kramer (1979) hashes out these issues in an article concluding with the assertion that “…what links art therapy to art education is understanding of the productive process and genuine respect for the products which are the result of children’s creative efforts (p. 17)”.

Can we still be friends?

Today there is a give and take between the fields of art therapy and art education.  Without art education, art therapy would not have had a place to blossom, and in return, the research done by art therapists has made its way back into the classroom.  One of the schism’s benefits is a deeper rapport with artwork and art making due to psychological insights uncovered by art therapists (Eisner, 1972).  Art educators are also better prepared to teach special populations because of research conducted by art therapists (Blandy, 1989).  Possibly the most important gift the field of art therapy has given art educators is the knowledge that creativity is being actively used to heal.  The weight that art educators once felt to use creativity for the purpose of healing their students is lightened and borne by the field of art therapy, so they may in good conscience devote their attention to the education of their students.


Agell, G. (1980). History of Art Therapy. Art Education, 33(4), 8-9.

American Art Therapy Association. (2013). American Art Therapy Association. Retrieved June 21, 2013, from

Blandy, D. (1989). As I see it: Ecological and normalizing approaches to disabled students and art education. Art Education, 42(3), 7-11.

Cardinal, R. (1972). Outsider art. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.

D’Amico, V. (1943). Art therapy in education. The Bulletin of the Museum of Modern Art, 10(3), 9-12.

Eisner, E.W. Educating artistic vision, New York: Macmillan, 1972.

Gantt, L. (1998). A discussion of art therapy as a science. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 15(1),3-12.

Kaufman, I. (1963). Art education: A discipline? Studies in Art Education, 4(2), 15-23.

Kramer, E. (1980). Art therapy and art education: Overlapping functions. Art Education, 33(4), art therapy and art education, 16-17.

Lanier, V. (1968). Schismogenesis in contemporary art education. Studies in Art Education, 5(1), 10-19.

London, P. (1988). Art therapy’s contribution to art education: Towards meaning, not decoration. Art Education, 41(6), 44-48.

Naumburg, M. (1955). Art as symbolic speech. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 13(4), 435-450.

Rannells, E. W. (1946). Objectives of art education in the junior high school. The School Review, 54(1), 32-38.

Rubin, J. A. (1999). Art therapy: An introduction. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis.

Wadeson, H. (1980). Art therapy research. Art Education, 33(4), 31-34.


My Personal History of Art Education



I remember sitting at the kitchen table in my red footed pajamas watching my Great-Aunt Lindy draw with colored pencils.  I was all of four years old, but I was certain that I knew everything.  Aunt Lindy began her drawing with small, soft lines and dots, and she would stop now and then to ask me what she was drawing.  I furrowed my brow over and over again because she rejected my answers (Which were so obviously correct! Those most certainly were ovals.  And THAT was a triangle).  She finished her drawing, asked me a final time what it was, and as it dawned on me, my little eyes grew big.  Her drawing was of ME.

I immediately rejected the belief that I knew everything about art and began my quest for understanding.  I wanted to be able to do that kind of magic.  Fortunately I had a patron.  My grandmother embraced my passion and paid for oil lessons, drawing lessons, and watercolor lessons.  She also purchased several “how-to-draw” books and indulged my every art supply whim.  I was also encouraged in my artwork by fellow artists in my family, my Great-Grandma Rosie and my Great-Aunt Lindy.  It seemed the art-blood came from my dad’s side of the family.

Then a unique family vacation shifted this assumption.  My mother, who was adopted, reconnected with her biological parents, and my brothers and I went to meet them when I was ten years old.  I discovered that my biological grandmother, Linda, was also an artist and that we had simultaneously created nearly identical paintings during the few years before we met.  My family still finds this very spooky, but I take great comfort in it and was thrilled to discover art-blood on both sides of the family tree.  (Years later, a few days after changing my college major from business to art education, I learned at Linda’s funeral that she was not only an artist, but had also worked as an art teacher for twenty years.  This was a beautiful affirmation for my decision to pursue art education as a career.)

During highschool I almost abandoned the visual arts entirely for the love of theatre.  I enjoyed performing, directing, and working on the sets and lighting for shows at my school and in the community.  My experiences in this environment have influenced my practices as an artist and art educator by teaching me the value of collaborative efforts and the importance of fostering rapport while strengthening my skills in leadership and communication.  Because of my strong relationships with friends in music and theatre, I encourage my students to contribute to and collaborate with musicians and performing arts groups.

When I enrolled at Florida State University, I declared myself a business major believing that I could do anything in the world with a business degree.  One soul-crushing macroeconomics class shattered any desire to continue in that program, and I nervously changed my major to art education.  I felt this would seem more professional than being a studio art major.  Perhaps if I could also teach art I wouldn’t starve quite as much as I supposed that artists did.  After consulting with my advisor and other art teachers, I made an even more terrifying shift.  I would pursue my BA in Studio Art and probably starve to death.

Though I performed well in my classes, I didn’t feel that I was learning anything that could prepare me for the real world of being an artist.  Then a sculpture class lit a fire in my heart, and I didn’t care whether or not I would able to buy food.  My instructor, Jordan, became the most influential and empowering art teacher in my life.  She recognized and valued my desire to challenge and encourage my studio mates and pushed my own work into a realm of higher quality.  She helped me transition from graduation into the professional world of art-making and teaching, and I can still pick up the phone and call her with wild ideas and crazy questions anytime I need some encouragement, understanding, or direction.

In 2012 I decided to pursue my MA in Art Education at the University of Florida and have continued to work in over twenty unique art education settings.  Working in several places has been taxing but educational.  I now feel confident in choosing work that I want to commit to and prepared for this work by my studies at the University of Florida.

Digital Media Practices in the Art Classroom


Goals for digital media practices.

The primary goals for digital media practices in the high school art classroom are the understanding, re-defining, and development of the relationship between technology and its users.  Before teachers can utilize digital technologies for the creative good, they must first understand their relationship with these technologies.  Scholz (2005) argues that “new-media arts must be concept driven rather than media driven” (p. 103) meaning that before embracing the culture of technophilia for its own sake, art teachers must analyze the conceptual content of digital media and instruct their students in this analysis.  Eisenhaur (2006) explains that “included as part of learning to use given technologies, should be a simultaneous inquiry into what technologies mean, how they relate to other technologies, and what our own divergent experiences with technologies are in our everyday lives” (p. 212)  As the art teacher and student come to a deeper understanding of their relationship with technology they are better able to creatively re-define this relationship during artistic exploration.  Just as the painter continuously re-defines their relationship with their brushes, paints, and substrates to discover new techniques and means of expression, so must the art educator and student manipulate technology to produce fresh, relevant work in digital media practices.  With the re-defining of this relationship will come development.  Students should be encouraged to recognize and utilize concepts they have learned from working in traditional media as they explore the digital media landscape.  This approach will improve their work in both digital and traditional media as “children learn more thoroughly when they represent the same concept in different media” (Swann, 2005, p. 45).

Problems and limitations of new technologies in education settings.

Some major problems and limitations of new technologies in educational settings include funding for expensive equipment and software, assumptions held by teachers about their students’ relationship with technology, and the wide range of exposure to technology within a high school setting.  Perhaps the most difficult obstacle for art educators who wish to incorporate digital media practices in their classroom is obtaining the equipment to do so.  Due to low funding for the arts, art educators may find it difficult to convince administration to provide state of the art technology for an unfamiliar medium.  Historically, the relationship between technology and its inclusion in the educational world is strongly affected by the cost of the technology as illustrated by Eisenhaur’s (2006) discussion of the preference for the affordable slide projector to expensive microscopes.  One strategy for addressing issues of cost is to demonstrate to administration how the technology is beneficial for all subject areas and to propose a plan for sharing the equipment and software with as many classes as possible.  The instructor may also personally seek out individuals or companies that may donate used equipment for the classroom.

Another problem for art educators who wish to incorporate digital media practices into their curriculum is that many hold biases and assumptions about their students’ relationships with technology.  For example, instructors may assume that because students encounter computers on a regular basis that they are proficient with computers and would be receptive to computer generated art, but this is not necessarily the case.  In an article detailing the process of incorporating Internet art into high school digital art curriculum, Coleman (2004) explains how such assumptions can negatively influence teaching methods:

I initially assumed that because the students appeared comfortable using the Internet, they would be receptive to Internet art.  I also assumed the students would be able to transfer their knowledge of the Web to an ability to navigate around works of Internet art. These assumptions directly influenced my teaching methods […] with two exceptions, their overall reactions to the first two works were highly unfavorable; their Internet savviness did not translate into knowing how to navigate through and understand Internet art […] most students shut down and did poorly on the first two worksheet assignments. (p. 66)

As Coleman (2004) illustrates, it is important for art educators to reflect on their own assumptions while creating lesson plans that incorporate new technologies.

A minor difficulty that may frustrate art teachers and students in high school settings is the wide range of skills each individual brings with them into the world of technology and digital media.  Students may be proficient in one software program but not another, some may not have any experience with computers, and others may already be blossoming digital artists.  This creates a challenge while lesson planning as advanced students may become bored with assignments testing their technical skills and beginning students may become overwhelmed when comparing their work to others.  It is likely they will consider these advantages and disadvantages unfair because, unlike pencils and paper, computers and software for producing digital art are not available in every household.  To bridge this gap, the instructor may consider offering different levels of a class or dividing one class into beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels based on proficiency.

Contemporary digital media artists.

Notable artists using new digital media in creative ways include Pascal Dombis, Antoine Schmitt, and Antoinette LaFarge.  Dombis’ (2013) work includes large scale digital prints often utilizing text and manipulated printing methods.  He lives and works in Paris, France.  Another Parisian working in digital media, Schmitt (2013) often displays generated videos as installations.  LaFarge (2012) is a performance artist whose works “are heavily computer-mediated and many require a computational infrastructure”.

Digital media projects for the classroom.

A digital media studio art project that I could do in my sketchbook class is an assignment to create a digital drawing using only a word processor.  I will share example of work created this way, but urge students to come up with new techniques for this art form.  Students will be encouraged to consider the inclusion or omission of meaningful text and symbols and given the option of printing their work or emailing it to each other for discussion and critique.

A digital media facilitated research project that I could do at the Renee Foosaner Education center is to ask students to initiate an image driven dialogue with one of their peers through an online chat system such as AOL Instant Messenger, Skype, or Facebook Chat.  Students would be asked to share their conversations with the class, and we would analyze the similarities and differences between digital communication using images and digital communication using text.

Both of these projects communicate details about the artists’ identities through their unique creative choices.  The research project also especially explores the theme of visual culture by revealing the popular meanings conveyed by images.


Austin Musuem of Digital Art. (2012). Austin Museum of Digital Art. Retrieved February 10,

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Ceasar, R. (2008). Ray Caesar – Home Page. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from

Colman, A. (2004). and Net.pedagogy: Introducing Internet art to the digital art

curriculum. Studies in Art Education, 46(1), 61-73.

Eisenhauser, J. E. (2006). Next slide please: The magical, scientific, and corporate discourse

of visual project technologies. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 47(3), 198-214.

LaFarge, A. (2012). : Home. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from

Dombis, P. (2013). Pascal Dombis. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from

Schmitt, A. (2013). Antoine Schmitt. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from

Scholz, T. (2005). New media art education and its discontents. Art Journal, 64(1), 95-104

Swann, A. (2005). The role of media and emerging representation in early childhood. Art

Education, 58(4), 41-47.

A History (and Critique) of Holiday Art

holiday art

From holiday art to more formal occasions.

In the early nineteenth century the art classroom is included in the regular schedule of United States schooling and is asked to break up the monotony of the school year with fun, festive projects.  Moving into the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the focus of art education shifts from the instruction of representational renderings to discussions of art theory and the instruction of the formal qualities of art.  These discussions make possible the idea that art is a very teachable subject.

During the early nineteenth century, schooling was scheduled in response to the seasons.  Boys attended school in the winter when there was no farm work, and girls attended during the summer.  As cities grew and factories multiplied, workers required a regular school schedule so their children might attend school while they worked.  Schooling became year round with only summer vacations for the wealthy to “escape the city heat while their children were out of school” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 85).  This consistent schedule created a tedious day-in, day-out ritual that art educators were encouraged to alleviate by incorporating holiday art and seasonal activities in their curriculum.  Such projects were intended to lift students’ spirits and provide a balance to the drudgery of their academic studies.  Henry Turner Bailey suggested that holiday art might also be used to educate students about the aesthetics of such art.  Since students would become consumers of Christmas cards and holiday decorations, Bailey “advocated for replacing ugly, sentimental Christmas cards and gifts with tasteful, handmade ones” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.90) so they might learn to make aesthetically influenced decisions.  The art classroom also became a place where urban school children were introduced to the seasonal traditions of rural life.  Activities such as cutting jack-o-lanterns and hanging May baskets were formalized so urban students might “imitate an idealized, rural homogeneous culture” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 90).

Naturalistic representation was the primary goal of art educators until the early twentieth century when art theory began to emerge as a topic of interest.  The formal values of art and design and the possibility of teaching these principles captured the attention of art critics and art educators.  Two opposing views of how this should be done were held by Walter Smith and John Ruskin.  Walter Smith, an art critic, placed great emphasis on the rules of design.  He believed that “students should not be allowed to invent original designs until they had learned to copy and analyze traditional motifs” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.102)  He hoped to educate the public about discerning between a good and bad work of art maintaining it “was to be judged on the work’s truth to nature” which he believed reflected “the artist’s scientific knowledge” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.102).  At the other end of the spectrum one finds John Ruskin who believed that good design could not be taught by a set of rules, and that, furthermore, it was altogether unteachable.  Good design, according to Ruskin, was “intuitive, the result of creative force, and part of the innate personality of the artist” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 103).  Arthur Wesley Dow and Denman Waldo Ross are also an excellent pair  to compare and contrast.  Dow was an American landscape painter who “criticized the academic approach for providing students with facts but depriving them of the power to use those facts to make and appreciate art” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 106).  He valued creativity over the ability to reproduce other styles believing that art, like music, was sensuous and that it’s formal qualities were transcendent.  Though he did not aim to become a great art educator, he was a charismatic teacher whose influence on modern artist is notable.  Ross, however, developed an aesthetic theory contrasting Dow’s mystical approach.  He considered it a theory of pure design which “sought to apply scientific methods to understanding and explaining art and artistic elements and principles” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 110). Unlike Dow, Ross also believed that students should master an understanding of formal design before they should be permitted to create.  Regardless of the disagreements between these key figures in art education history, this discussion of the instruction of aesthetics paved the way for the belief that it was possible and valuable to instruct anyone in art.

Holiday art? Bah-Humbug!

Stankiewicz enriches my view that holiday art does not have a place in the art classroom by exposing the misguided and now outdated motivations art teachers had for its inclusion in the first place.  I emphatically agree that “holiday art contributed to the marginalization of art as a school subject and to the displacement of art from work to entertainment” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 90).  When art teachers are inexplicably stuck with the responsibility of making the school day fun and festive their students receive the message that art is recreational, should feel good, and is not an important (or even academic) subject.

As a child, I took private art lessons in addition to the art classes provided at my school, and I was very aware of the differences between the studio and classroom settings.  I attended private lessons knowing that I would have to work very hard to please myself and my teacher.  I would rarely finish a piece in one sitting.  I was prepared to accept critique and to make corrections to my work.  When I finished a piece it was frame-worthy, and I was proud.  How different this was from the “manageable” projects assigned in school!  I was especially frustrated when the holidays rolled around and there was no hope of putting in any real effort or creating something unique.  My cotton ball-bearded Santa Claus would hang with the rest of them, and I would not be proud of my work.  In fact, I would hardly think about it at all.


Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). Every day a festival. In M. A. Stankiewicz, Roots of art education practice (pp.

67-83). Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.

Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). We Aim at Order and Hope for Beauty. In M. A. Stankiewicz, Roots of art

education practice (pp. 85-103). Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.

Pretty Pictures for Moral Reform?

The rise of picture study in America.
Picture study, the use of printed reproductions of artwork to engage and instruct art students flooded the art curriculum of the early twentieth century. During the late nineteenth century, reproducing works of art using “photo mechanically produced halftone reproductions” (Stankiewicz, 1985, p. 86) became possible and art educators considered this technology a valuable resource for providing their students with learning materials. The style used in picture study was very distinct. According to Stankiewicz (1985), “The recommended pictures were those which translated the original work of art into sepia or black and white lines and tonal masses” (p. 90). Art instructors considered picture study analogous to language study, and they operated under the philosophy that “young people could be taught to read the language of art” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.116) The exercises were simple. Art teachers discussed both formal and narrative qualities of a picture with the students and “students would be asked to write a description of the picture, then mount the reproduction on their paper” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 117). In addition to strengthening students’ understanding of the elements and principles of design and sharpening their observational skills through copying of these reproductions, art educators from about the 1890s through the 1920s believed that picture study strengthened students moral character as well. “Picture study authors described fine art as an influence for order, cleanliness, and love of home and family” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 116). In addition to moral refinement, educators also turned to picture study to instill American values in immigrant children and help them to socially adjust and conform to American culture (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 116). Picture study was not only popular in the art classroom, however. In an America striving to match European standards for art and culture, “women’s clubs used reproductions to educate themselves about art” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 117). Ushering in a new era, the rise of the reproduced image and picture study influenced art education in a way comparable perhaps only to photography and the recent “dramatic changes in access to images made possible by computers and the Internet” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 114).
Key influences of picture study.
Henry Bailey was an art supervisor whose nature studies were included in School Arts, a magazine that provided reproductions of art intended for use in schools (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 116). Bailey “encouraged teachers to make collections of pictures and suggested how illustrations from recent magazines might be used in schools” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 116). By advocating for the addition of images other than masterpieces in the school curriculum, Bailey paved the way for picture study and its utilization of images suited specifically for the purpose of cultivating morals and American virtues in students.
Progressive education, which “attempted to extend democratic social reforms to education” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 33), also contributed to the coupling of picture study with moral and social refinement. As Stankiewicz (2001) explains, “On the verge of Progressivism, American art educators were trying to link the study of art with social adjustment, as the process of helping individuals conform to the social order was labeled” (p. 116). The child-centered philosophy of progressive education made it possible for art teachers to share the artwork in a picture study with their students with the intention of listening to their students’ reactions to the picture. This approach allowed art teachers to gauge a child’s moral beliefs and spiritual understanding and to influence their minds through the selection of images intended to steer them in the socially acceptable direction (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 116).
Estelle Hurll was an educator who saw picture study as a way to help her students develop good taste in an enjoyable way. She was afraid that if students were forced to write about art the way they were made to write about literature they might come to hate it (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 118). She advocated for simple drawings for young students and argued that with more complex pictures “aesthetic taste could be cultivated in older children by asking questions about the first thing they noticed in the picture, the setting, the emotional feeling, and the structure of the picture” (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 118).
Relevance before tradition: a personal reflection.
Art teachers should show works of art in the classroom to provide their students with a knowledge of the history of art, an awareness of contemporary art, examples for technical study, and to stimulate discussion that challenges and develops student ideas about art. I feel that too often studio artists become isolated from other artists which leads to burning out. It is especially important for creators to take in other works of art so they may feed their mind and discover inspiration. As studio artists, I require my students to curate bodies of work that influence their own art making. I encourage students not only to keep sketchbooks but scrapbooks with evidence of the historical “lineage” of their work as well. When recommending artists for my students to study, I tailor my suggestions to each student based on their individual interest and style. Sometimes I do this to give them a sense of the visual history of the ideas they are exploring. Sometimes I want to expose them to technical aspects and skills that I suspect they wish to emulate and master, and sometimes I am seeking to validate their work by developing a connection between their work and other works with similar moods, symbols, and messages. When selecting the artists and artworks I will share, I do not feel that it is essential to abide by many stipulations other than it be relevant, informative artwork. I work primarily with adult students, but taking age appropriateness into account is, of course, important. I consider sexually explicit artwork off-limits for minors and am careful to avoid work that is too graphically violent as well. However, I do not believe that we ought to shy away from introducing children to work with heavy themes or complex ideas.
Stankiewicz, M. A. (1985). A picture age: Reproductions in picture study. Studies in Art Education, 26(2) 86-92.
Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). The aesthetic culture of pupils. In M. A. Stankiewicz, Roots of art education practice (pp. 120-145). Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.