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Notes from the Field: Art Education Graduate Emma Grimes at the National Art Education Association Conference

conference AED

The world’s largest art education convention, The National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) conference in March is host to 1,000 participatory workshops, panels, seminars for art educators in elementary through higher education. The NAEA works to provide expertise and tools to its many attendees to help them effect change on their local levels. For graduate students and UT Austin professors alike, it is an opportunity to share scholarship and network among peer researchers and educators in the field.

We asked one of our Art Education graduates, Emma Grimes, to give us some notes from the field. She returned with a list of themes, highlights and personal takeaways.

“Some of the recurring themes from NAEA included socially engaged curriculums, specific strategies for how to make a difference with art education, creating communities that foster advocacy, and the increasing need for quality research,” Grimes wrote.

On meeting your idols (or at least your authors)

We have done a substantial amount of reading this year and many of the authors of articles we’ve studied were present at the conference. It was a special experience to hear veterans of the field speak candidly about current topics and issues that art educators face today. As someone just entering into the field, it was inspiring to hear words of wisdom from educators, activists, and historians who have seen art education evolve over the past few decades.


On research presented by a peer 

In the session “Understanding Challenges: Teaching and Learning Social Justice Through Art” InJeong Yoon presented her doctoral dissertation research composed of case studies of undergraduate art courses that she had taught where topics of social justice were introduced into her curriculum. Her findings were particularly useful to me, as similar topics and concerns have emerged in the Art and Art History Core freshman class where I serve as a teaching assistant for this semester.

group portrait

On changes within the field of art education

In the panel between Mary Ann Stankiewicz, Kerry Freedman, Laurie Hicks, Doug Blandy, Graeme Sullivan—all prominent figures in the world of art education and all people who have published articles read in our grad program—they discussed trends in art education research, what research is currently needed, and tactics for encouraging more quality research to be conducted. The question of the value of research in our field was brought up multiple times, and the panelists reiterated the need to garner more support for research if our field is to remain a professional one.