Can Art Education Shape Society?

Article excerpt

According to Olivia Gude, a deep belief in the average person's creative power lies at the root of any democratic society. As democratic citizens, we must believe that what we do affects the world around us, that what we do makes a difference. Supporting each person in telling his or her own story, her article in this issue - the integral text of the Lowenfeld Lecture she delivered at the 2009 NAEA convention - examines how, despite variations in content and structure the stories told by today's children and teenagers still function as Lowenfeld described in his classic works, as a means of "self-identification." Furthermore, people who participate in quality arts education experiences identify the importance of free expression for themselves and for others.

How does an engaged, aware person participate in a democratic society?

In a previous issue of Art Education duly 2009), devoted to the notion of voice, I asked what could be art educators' contribution to a democratic society with its inspiring and incongruous facets. In this last issue of 2009, I invite you expand that reflection with our 1 J authors, 9 of which are new voices. Inspired by Maxine Greenes description of democracy as an ideal always in the process of becoming, these authors echo concerns of our larger art education community, sharing their perspectives on the essential question: How does an engaged, aware person participate in a democratic society?

The voices of Joan Armon, Tony Ortega, and P. Bruce Uhrmacher describe and reflect upon a summer undergraduate course combining art and literacy to reveal social problems. Fueled by the desire to bring a social justice perspective to art education and to address and unveil the lack of learning opportunities for low-income Latino children, Letras y Arte focused on social issues artists identified that impact local children. Young lmm Kang Song inquires into the power of art to encourage second-generation Korean Americans to examine their ethnic heritage, while also enhancing their understanding of multiple identities. Issues of cultural identity and duality are not limited to Korean Americans, other immigrants or children of immigrants might struggle to preserve their own or their parents' cultural identity while integrating many values, ideas, and norms of American culture. Instructional Resource authors Guey-Meei Yang and Tom Suchan lead teachers to explore the impact of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) on contemporary art in Mainland China with their students. Artworks by three artists, Luo Zhongli (b. 1948), Xu Bing (b. 1955), and Wang Guangyi (b. 1957), who came of age during the Cultural Revolution and are representative of a much larger number of contemporary Chinese artists who have produced works based on their own and collective experiences during the Cultural Revolution and it pervasive visual legacy, are the basis of this journey. …