Theses Doctoral

Understanding the Dynamics of Art Education in Saudi Arabia Within High Schools and Colleges

Lutfi, Dina Abdelhamid

This dissertation focuses on understanding how art education is structured within high schools and colleges of Saudi Arabia, and investigates why educational institutions are focused on traditional art. While contemporary art is not a part of curriculums in high schools and colleges, in fact, practicing artists produce both traditional and contemporary artwork outside of educational institutions. The dissertation points to a disconnect between how art education is structured and perceived within educational institutions and how students learn and perceive art and art making during their transition from high school art to college art, and later as practicing artists.
Interviews, observations, and document analysis illuminate how administrators, art educators, students, and artists perceive art and art making. Findings uncovered two main categories influencing the status quo: institutional dynamics and social dynamics. The art education system in Saudi Arabia is influenced by what is culturally acceptable, at the high school and college level. There is, however, a difference in terms of the liberty students are provided depending on their educational level. Practicing artists in Saudi Arabia also discuss the difficulties they face as a result of making contemporary art. The lack of knowledge about contemporary art has made it challenging to find supportive audiences in Saudi communities because of their ignorance about contemporary art and the availability of new media to inform them. Social dynamics such as religion, tradition, and gender are critical underlying factors directly linked to institutional structuring of art education. The findings in this study also reveal how older practices relating to arts and crafts are considered to represent ideal and acceptable art forms.
Discussion and educational implications point to institutional and social dynamics at play, which hinder the progress of art education inside and outside of educational institutions. I recommend that change could take place gradually to improve the outlook on art education. Taking steps, such as educating individuals at the administrative level about contemporary art, ensuring educators possess proper qualifications to teach different forms of art, and considering the age group of students may go a long way in improving the value of art in Saudi society.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Sagolla, Lisa Jo
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
March 2, 2018