Salvaging practice from the remnants of twentieth century art education in New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
As the title of this thesis suggests, this is a project of salvaging practice from the site of 20th century art education in New Zealand, engaged in through research practice and its materialisation into text. Through exploring this site I ask what makes art useful to educational practice, using the voice of an embodied artist/researcher? The 20th century answers to this question range from developing a visual literacy that can be applied to the image-saturated world of mass media to the liberation of human potential through arts-based inquiries. My project includes the critical interrogation of these positions, contextualised within an argument that value in the practices of art comes from the contextual and contingent disciplinary understandings of art. Whilst the predominant logic of the research is founded in a theoretical hybridism of art and education, using the methodologies of art practice and narrative inquiry, each chapter represents a different way of thinking about the initial proposition on the value of art practice, using representational forms that are integral to their epistemologies. In the pursuit of the value of art practice, I have explored a number of rich art educational contexts. These have included investigating multiple depictions of the phenomenology of teaching and learning art as well as piecing together constructions of historical art education practice and the representation of both of these in academic discourse throughout the 20th century. The complexity of these contexts demands complex and multidimensional analyses. The significant findings of this text are the recommendations for recognition of the embodied nature of art learning, whereby art meanings are actively constructed within thinking and working, albeit contingent, bodies. This is a position that is undermined by a textualisation of culture that positions bodies entirely as discursive abstractions, removed from their phenomenological existence. I find that the re-examination of the significance of material effects to individual subject bodies re-inserts positions f!om which to speak on the value and ethics of art education, however, contingent subjectivities mean that an ethical art pedagogy needs careful consideration. Examining critical and emancipatory practices in art provides a guide for how this may be achieved.