Three Initiatives for Community-Based Art Education Practices

By Lim, Maria; Chang, Eunjung et al. | Art Education, July 2013 | Go to article overview

Three Initiatives for Community-Based Art Education Practices


Lim, Maria, Chang, Eunjung, Song, Borim, Art Education


By going beyond the classroom and getting involved in community-based projects, students become connected to the outside world and are offered opportunities to change the public's attitude toward art.

According to Lawton (2010), art educators should be concerned with teaching their students to make critical connections between the classroom and the outside world. One effective way to make these critical connections is to provide students with the opportunity to engage in community-based art endeavors (Bolin, 2000; Gude, 2007). In this article, three university art educators discuss engaging preservice art teachers in community arts events. The first author reviews a collaborative mural project as a meaning-making process that fostered a constructive partnership between the university and the local public school and promoted preservice art teachers' positive attitudes toward community service-learning art projects. The second author examines the Pecan Festival as a community service-learning activity for preserviceartteachers. She emphasizes the importanceof studying the local community and environment while connecting the art education course curriculum to a community art event. The third author reflects on the significant benefits preservice art teachers achieved through community involvement and outreach with the Youth Art Festival.

The purpose of this study was to share a review of current community art education programs and correlated curricula and then to open pragmatic dialogues relevant to community art initiatives among art educators. The article concludes with a call for action. According to Ulbricht (2005), art educators should take a careful look at the definitions, rationales, and goals of community-based art education before implementing new programs of their own. During this collaborative journey, we focused on four guiding questions: (1) In what ways do community arts serve preservice art teachers? (2) In what ways do preservice art teachers prepare for the community service projects? (3) What kinds of benefits can preservice art teachers achieve through community involvement and outreach? (4) In what ways do art educators connect the community projects to the regular curricula, which are the art teacher education courses in higher education? By exploring these questions through community service projects, art educators can envision meaningful projects and programs that are enriching and educational for their students as well as for their communities. Although community-based art education has been a topic of discussion within the discourse of art education (Congdon, Blandy, & Bolin, 2001; Gude, 1989; London, 1994), this article will take a second look at various forms of community-based art education and propose ideas for future community-based art curriculum initiatives.

Community Mural Project as Meaning Making

As contemporary artists often search for relevant meanings through their artmaking practices, art educators and their students can explore an artmaking experience as a meaning-making process (Walker, 2001). Aligned with this approach, I continue to seek practical methods from real-world experience to expand my preservice art teachers' learning experiences. Moreover, I work to foster preservice art teachers' professional interests in art and education and to promote their positive attitudes toward community-based art education practices (Bolin, 2000; Lawton, 2010). In September 2010,1 received an e-mail from a media specialist at Reedy Fork Elementary in Greensboro, North Carolina. The media specialist wanted a mural for her school library. As soon as my preservice art teachers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) decided to take on the project, we visited the elementary school to take photos and measurements of the reading nook where the mural would be sited. The fostering of a productive partnership with a local public school is vital in securing public school endorsement for art education and for enhancing its respect in the community (Chung & Ortiz, 2011); therefore, we collaborated with staif from the Reedy Fork Elementary to discuss anticipated themes, images, and art materials suitable for the eco-friendly school building (Figure 1). …

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