Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Dialogue on Queering Arts Education across the Americas

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Dialogue on Queering Arts Education across the Americas

Article excerpt

At first, one might assume we are dissimilar given age differences and the geographic and cultural distances between us. Our exchanges instead have confirmed we share much in common: a fervent commitment to human rights, advancing social justice concerns, and undertaking forms of arts education that trouble common sense assumptions. We both value addressing sexuality subjects that at times seem marginalized in arts education literature. Across generations, we contend that education needs to be queered and queried in ways that disrupt normative presumptions regarding sexuality and that questions common practice of educators assuming as irrelevant the identities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) artists and their artworks' narrative content. Such practices sustain the invisibility of such subjects and, we contend, silently endorse innumerable social injustices largely borne by LGBT subjects.

Before beginning our fused discussion, we offer background information about our collaboration. We have each taught distance-learning courses, used online technologies, and worked primarily with students pursuing degrees in art education and visual culture studies within higher-education settings. We share disciplinary interests and embodied research concerns that frequently are central to those discourses we exchange as two gay men. Gubes Vaz comes to this work as one with a 21 st-century Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and Master's degree in visual culture while Sanders earned two 20thcentury terminal degrees, including a Master of Fine Arts in studio art and a PhD in Education. Our exchanges have ranged from questioning the ways that academic training, scholarly expectations, and publishing protocols discipline us to speak in particularly formal fashions to our reflections on the risks one takes in failing to cross-examine sexualized subjects within the classroom. We inevitably came to agree that media products might be preeminently useful in helping redress silences concerning sexuality subjects.

How Did We Initially Hook Up?

Our lives first crossed in the context of an academic exchange between our universities. Earlier, Sanders had worked with Gubes Vaz's graduate advisor when she was a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University in the early 2000s, and both now serve as officers in an international arts education organization. While as gay men and coauthors we share an interest in LGBT sexualities and social justice labors, our exchanges have at times been difficult to navigate, given our differing native tongues and locations. Gubes Vaz has acted as a bridge connecting our realities, as Sanders neither writes, reads, nor understands Portuguese. Gubes Vaz is not a native English speaker and yet has taken on this scholarly effort. Sanders acknowledges his appreciation of Gubes Vaz's generosity and patience in producing this work and developing another version of this exchange in Portuguese.

Gubes Vaz initially called on Sanders when searching for academic readings during his visiting academic quarter in North America. Readings shared included texts differentiating between and reconciling tensions between gay and lesbian studies and queer theoretical standpoints (Piontek, 2006), as well as essays exploring how museums, like public schools, largely avoid homosexuality as a subject (see Sanders, 2008). It has only been fairly recently that arts education has finally begun to deeply probe the topic of (homo)sexuality subjects in museums, afterschool community-arts programs, and school classrooms from grades pK-16. Unfortunately, these reading exchanges were limited to authors published in English, given that it is our shared language, but several Latin American authors could equally advance our discussions (see Louro, Felipe & Goellner, 2007; Viteri, Serrano &Vidal-Ortiz, 2011).

There are other forms of language, however, that we do share-those involving pictorial images; moving discourses projected in film; digital forms; and published artifacts in artist catalogues, visual diaries, and curated exhibitions. …

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