Theses Doctoral

Beyond Beauty: The Epistemologies And Aesthetic Praxes Of Black Women Artists

Cofield, Jacqueline

In this investigation, I explored the praxes of three Black women multimodal artists--including their perspectives, artistic strategies, and creation of material culture objects--to illuminate the myriad ways their work may inspire teachers and learners across various settings. I examined the complex interplay between art, education, and social justice through the lens of Black women's artistic practices. In this research project, I sought to illuminate the transformative potential these practices hold for formal and informal educational settings and assert the need to recognize and integrate Black women artists' diverse epistemologies and aesthetic experiences into broader educational discourses. A central goal entails recognizing the knowledge these artists draw upon and produce. Therefore, this study centers Black women artists’ multimodal production and creative values from an inter-arts perspective that reckons with socio-political critique and aesthetic sensibilities. Theoretical underpinnings for this research are grounded in interlocking critical discourses involving gender, race, power relations, and education. Using a critical arts-knowledge lens, this arts-based project dialogues with and explores ways to make visible the radical aims, unorthodox practices of belonging (McKittrick, 2021), and artistic strategies of Black women artists to reflect on and reimagine the world as they see and experience it.

Employing a critical arts-based research methodology, the research engages with the work and perspectives of three Black multimodal artists—Sable Elyse Smith, Renée Cox, and Nanette Carolyn Carter. By examining their artistic strategies, creations, and the socio-political critique embedded in their work, the dissertation reveals how their art challenges conventional educational paradigms and offers radical curricular and pedagogical possibilities. The study is grounded in interlocking critical discourses on gender, race, power relations, and education, utilizing a rhizomatic conceptual framework to explore the interconnectedness of these themes.

This research's findings illuminate art's significant role in fostering critical consciousness, challenging existing norms, and advocating for change. Through the narratives and artistic expressions of Black women artists and Black women art educators, the dissertation underscores the urgency of integrating multisensory and multimodal approaches into educational curricula. Such integration enriches the academic experience and prepares students to navigate the complexities of a multicultural world with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the diversity of human expression and knowledge."Beyond Beauty" calls for expanding curriculum and pedagogy that centers on Black women artists' aesthetic encounters, creative processes, and social justice commitments. I advocate for a more inclusive, dynamic, and transformative educational landscape by highlighting these women's narratives and artistic insights. This research contributes to the ongoing discourses on the importance of art in and as education, pushing for a future where the rich tapestry of human experiences is fully recognized and integrated into the very fabric of learning and teaching.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Oyler, Celia
Love, Bettina L.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2024