Students and Faculty Attend Texas Art Education Association's Annual Conference
Fri. December 2, 2016
This past month, Visual Art Studies students attended the Texas Art Education Association’s annual conference in Dallas. The conference seeks to promote quality visual arts education as an integral part of learning in Texas through the professional development and advancement of knowledge and skills, representation of the art educators of Texas, service and leadership opportunities, and research and development of policies and decisions relative to practices and directions in visual arts education.
Awards for excellence in the field were given to UT Austin faculty members Paul Bolin for TAEA Distinguished Fellow and Heidi Powell for TAEA Higher Education Division Outstanding Art Education Award. In addition, faculty, current and former Visual Art Studies students presented research and best practices in a variety of conference presentations. Included among the presentations were current senior Julia Caswell’s “The Walking Classroom: Audio Walks and Engagement," which explored how interactive audio walks may be implemented in the art classroom, and alumnus Shaun Lane and Shelby Johnson's “Myth vs. Reality: Student Teaching,” an investigation of students’ relationships with student teachers vs. in-service teachers. Faculty members Christina Bain and Heidi Powell presented a workshop titled "Animating Your Curriculum" that taught how to integrate time-lapse software into an art education curriculum.
Christina Bain also presented a two hour workshop, "Penelope Paper Strip, Puppets, and Paper Sculpture," with VAS students Courtney Jones, Hannah Reed, Madison Weakley, Katie Gregory, Chelsea Freestone and Julia Caswell that explored how storytelling can set the stage for teaching basic paper sculpture techniques. This conference presentation was a natural extension of previous research presented at the International Society for Education through Art annual conference. Research from contemporary art educators at The University of Texas at Austin innovates upon current practices, incorporating elements of gamification and technology. "I think technology has always been a focus of art instruction," said Bain. "As technologies of the times change, so too does instruction. Technologies spotlighted in conferences such as TAEA dovetail with the general push in education to focus on 21st century learning skills."
Christina Bain and Colleagues Pave New Path with Technology-based Instruction Utilizing Animation and Gamification of Learning
Mon. November 21, 2016
Professor of Visual Art Studies and Art Education Christina Bain presented "Vulnerability and Vicissitudes: The Role of Scenario-Based Games in Preservice Preparation" at the International Society for Education through the Arts (INSEA) in Vienna, Austria last month.
“Experienced educators recognize that teaching is a complex, social process that is influenced by many contextual factors,” writes Bain. “The best solution to a situation—in theory—might be effective in one place but not in another. Therefore, preservice students often feel unprepared because they have limited teaching experience to draw upon. So, through my research I ask: How might preservice students learn from the wisdom and experience of seasoned teachers?” The solution, posed within Bain’s conference presentation, is K-16 collaborations. The Worst Case Scenario Art Game is one such strategy that improves preservice preparation by basing playing cards on authentic scenarios experienced by preservice and in-service teachers.
Likewise, Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Heidi Powell and Dr. Bill Nieberding presented "Animating Your Curriculum" at the Texas Art Education Association conference in Dallas, Texas on November 18, 2016. This presentation explored how animation software was integrated into three university art education courses. On November 19, Bain presented at TAEA with Courtney Jones, Hannah Reed, Madison Weakley, Katie Gregory, Chelsea Freestone and Julia Caswell (undergraduates in Visual Art Studies, 2017) in a two-hour workshop titled "Penelope Paper Strip, Puppets, and Paper Sculpture," which explores how storytelling can set the stage for teaching basic paper sculpture techniques.
Visual Art Studies Student Julia Caswell Competing in University-Wide Undergraduate Research Showdown
Fri. October 14, 2016
“Research plays an important role in the undergraduate Visual Art Studies (VAS) program,” writes assistant chair of the Art Education program Dr. Christina Bain. “Since our field examines questions that generally focus on people, learning, and creativity, qualitative research methodologies are well suited for this type of field-based research. VAS students have multiple opportunities to practice research strategies during their coursework and participate in the Undergraduate Research Showcase annually.”
We decided to interview Caswell to find out more. Interview conducted over email.
Could you explain a little bit about your project for Undergraduate Studies Texas Research Showdown?
Julia Caswell: My participation in the Undergraduate Studies Texas Research Showdown is bounded by two objectives. First, the competition’s video requirement asks students to explain their creative research to a general audience. Within the competition format, other students on campus can vote on their favorite entries in the competition and the top six applicants—three voted in by popular vote and three selected by a panel of UT judges—are invited to present their work to a live audience at the final round on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.
Secondly, my objective going into this project and this research was to investigate systematically how audio walks were designed, implemented as educational programs and studied in a museum setting. Which meant that, while interning as the School Groups Program Intern at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York, I proactively developed an audio walk. An audio walk is a digital program that you can use in an app-format that gives you interactive information to create an immersive experience with the work in the Cynthia C. Wainwright gallery. The design is meant to encourage engagement while directing viewers through the gallery, introduce children and their families to contemporary art, and utilize inquiry-based questions in the development of higher-level thinking, all while being easy-to-use and fun.
The implementation and testing were developed for the Children’s Museum of the Arts with their unique space and mission in mind. This is an idea I came up with while considering the needs of all the museum’s stakeholders, including the curators, administrators, teaching artists, art educators and most importantly the museum’s patrons. The museum was very open to the different avenues we could take with incorporating audio into their programming. With their willingness to try something new, I was able to create something that I feel really innovates and expands on best practices for education around contemporary art.
What theoretical lens informed this project?
Some of the theory I was looking at was associated with engagement and experience. Similar to stories, audio walks have the enduring ability to capture one’s attention and engage it uniquely. Husserl and Bachelard’s conceptions of phenomenology play a role in this research and practice, specifically when we refer to reflection, first-person perspective and the kind of immediate reach of “the poetic image when it emerges into the consciousness as a direct product of the heart, soul and being of man, apprehended in his actuality" (Bachelard, 1964).
But also, I was looking at contemporary Canadian audio walk artist, Janet Cardiff and her understanding of phenomenology as connected to “user’s experience.” Cardiff uses simple and straightforward “technology to create a complex, virtual reality in which the 'real' becomes inseparable from the virtual” (Sohal, 2006, p. 73).
What other previous experiences have you had that led you to this field and this research?
It is hard to tell, at this point, what led me to this field and research. You know the old debate, which came first the chicken or the egg? I think the egg, for me, always comes before the chicken. I often have fully-formed pictures in my head and really just need others to enact them to make them real.
One experience that led me to this field and research was my involvement in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre-Graduate School Internship last semester. My graduate mentor, Allison Clark, who now works in education at the Getty museum, worked with me on a multi-directional mentorship that engaged my passions. We crafted a syllabus and had a conversation in her office once a week. This informed everything I do and I am so thankful for this experience.
I can remember, after a reading about art and technology for a Visual Art Studies class and then having a conversation within a philosophy and criticism course, asking myself and my class, “How are we preparing future students?” It's not just technology as hardware anymore, it’s culture. It’s the way we communicate with one another and the environment that communication creates. For an educator, that becomes a question about the way we teach. So the question behind my research became: What drives today’s students to participate in educationally purposeful activities? What I found was an emphasis on personalized experience among new technologies. The experience of an audio walk is immersive and engaging. Audio walks challenge the user's sense of ordinary. Although an audio walk can be administered as a group, the emphasis of personal cognition is a dynamic tool audio walks employ. As a result, students feel a personal sense of relevance with the curriculum.
In the video, you describe a gap between theory and practice in contemporary museum education. Could you explain?
I think the field of art education is always trying to bridge the gap between theory and practice. My research is in response to what I observed in this particular museum. Twenty first century skills such as problem solving, creativity and communication play a huge role in what art educators do. In conversation with those I had the privilege to work with at CMA, I realized there was a gap between the theories contemporary art draws upon and the actual engagement of the visitors. They were having different conversations entirely. The educator and/or the art historian is normally the filler of that gap, whether by leading tours, programming or holding guided discussions of the work. But I wanted to take it a step further beyond the traditional didactic texts that accompany works in a museum. Audio walks can be a combination of the sound from the actual surroundings overlaid with sounds from past experiences, movie soundtracks, musical instruments, narrative, etc. Audio walks allow the viewer to embody the experience in a variety of ways and not only receive information.
Additionally, the audio walk employs gamification as an engagement strategy. In the development of the audio walk, I used game-design elements and game-principles. Even something as simple as asking a young user to find all of the basketball hoops in a painting, can significantly increase the level of engagement with the work. At its heart, this research suggests the possibilities of reaching contemporary youth learners who are adept at technology and giving them a platform for learning through personal relevance.
Visual Art Studies students intern across the world, from San Marcos and Austin to New York and Italy
Mon. September 5, 2016
Junior Tanya Gantiva and Senior Paulina Dosal-Terminel, Visual Art Students undergraduates, worked at the Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos. Gantiva and Dosal-Terminel interned as art directors for the institute’s free summer camp for youth. As a part of the Indigenous Cultures Institute’s mission to research and preserve indigenous culture, the summer camp offers youth a chance to learn about indigenous arts and their indigenous identities through hands-on workshops and projects.
“The whole process was such an incredible learning experience for me as an educator, artist and human being,” Paulina Dosal-Terminel writes. “Teaching art using indigenous methods, as well as working with a group of extremely talented individuals to guide students' on a path of learning that is both encouraging of individuality and conscious of the collective home we all share, really opened my eyes to how art is present in every moment of our lives.”
Madi Beavers (Visual Art Studies, 2018) interned at The Contemporary in Austin, working with the museum’s teen program. Over the course of the summer, Beavers learned the ins and outs of writing teacher materials and designing educational initiatives tailored toward a teen demographic. Ultimately, Beavers and her team of high school students created inventive zines as a product of their experiments, discussion and experience.
Julia Caswell (Visual Art Studies, 2017) had a fantastic summer internship as a School Programs Intern for The Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York (CMA). Working in collaboration with other nonprofits and arts organizations in New York, Caswell facilitated art-making inspired by interdisciplinary themes of CMA exhibits. Her work on a public art mural project is highlighted on the Children’s Museum of Art’s website.
Lastly, Visual Art Studies students traveled to Italy with Art History professor Dr. Ann Johns and made a brave journey to see Christo’s Floating Piers.
Through these internships, Visual Art Studies students are given the opportunity to practice pedagogy in the field, exploring the connections between trends in visual arts and contemporary art education.