Theses Doctoral

Art as Pedagogical Experience: Educational Implications of Three Participatory Socially Engaged Art Projects

Lee, Eunji

This qualitative multiple case study examines how learning is elicited in three artist-led socially engaged artworks. Three contemporary artists created their process-based artworks by intentionally employing educational methods and formats to promote a learning experience with an audience group. This type of participatory artmaking is often associated with the educational turn in contemporary art. However, the majority of contemporary art literature has focused on the artist, often overlooking the audience’s experience. Hence, from the position of an art educator, I investigate not only the artists’ intentions and pedagogical frameworks in creating the artworks, but also the learning outcomes from the perspectives of the audience members.

The three artworks in my study all shared a two-tier structure: first, a private working phase in which the artists collaborated with participating audience members whom I identified as “core group members”; and second, a public presentation phase in which the work was presented to “public audience members.” In order to examine the perceived learning from the three perspectives, I carried out on-site observations, and interviewed the artists, core group members, and public audience members, respectively.

The findings revealed how artists created their artworks as a process and platform to promote collective knowledge-making, particularly using current affairs as themes to instill political consciousness among the core group members. The core group members shared their salient learning experiences in relation to collaboration within their groups and with the artists, and “gaining confidence” in tandem with overcoming the challenges of public engagement. Aspects of self-directed learning, social bonding, and sense of belonging promoted motivation and eventually deeper learning. The public audience members shared their learning experiences in regard to public dialogue and display of the artworks.

This study supports recognizing the value of pedagogy-based artworks in relation to learning that is intrinsically motivational and meaningful. The artworks in my study serve as arts-based models for learning and teaching social justice issues and civic engagement. In conclusion, artists’ approaches can diversify educators’ pedagogical approaches, and educational outcomes can support artists in creating empowering work with participants. Ultimately, this study advocates for the value of artmaking as a collective, transformative experience.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Hafeli, Mary Claire
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 6, 2020