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  National Art Education Association Interpreting Gender and Visual Culture in Art ClassroomsAuthor(s): Kerry FreedmanReviewed work(s):Source: Studies in Art Education, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Spring, 1994), pp. 157-170Published by: National Art Education Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1320217 . Accessed: 05/09/2012 16:39 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.  .  National Art Education Association  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Studies in Art Education. http://www.jstor.org  STUDIES in Art Education Copyright by the A Journal of Issues and Research National Art Education Association 1994, 35 (3), 157-170 Interpreting Gender and Visual Culture in Art Classrooms Kerry Freedman University of Minnesota The purpose of this paper is to present gender issues in the context of a broad definition of art education that includes many types of visual culture and a social reconstruction of the school subject. Specifically, the paper focuses on three gender issues: (a) the representation of females in visual culture; (b) females as respondents to visual culture; and (c) the gendered characteristics of cultural production by students. The foundational importance of presenting cultural context and connec- tions of visual culture to identity are also discussed in relation to learning. The paper concludes with five recommendations for practice. That's it, it's a problem of communication, i.e. translation. No doubt they do have a soul, but of a type different from ours, speak a language, but a bodily language (even their words are like things), they hear someone, but not us. We have to establish what they want. We record them every which way, like extraterrestrial beings. And, you'll see, we shall decipher their idiom, they'll end up by talking to us. They will want to know, like we do. They will enter our community. There will be no more hysterics. (Lyotard, 1991, p. 130-131) Issues concerning the role of women in art and art education have been debated for generations and received particular attention from art educators in the last decade or so (e.g. Collins & Sandell, 1984; Stankiewicz & Zimmerman, 1985; Zimmerman & Stankiewicz, 1982). The debate in education has focused largely on the inclusion of women artists in the study of art history and the history of art education. Typically, the topic of women in art history has been addressed in education in terms of two main considerations: whether the work of women in fine art styles should be considered fine art, and whether women's creation of objects not previously considered fine art (such as needlework) should be considered part of art history. The focus of the gender debate on the inclusion of women artists in art education has resulted in the addition to the curriculum of some women fine artists and craft objects traditionally made by women. This is a positive step; but only a first step. Lyotard's statement above points to one of the reasons that much work remains to be done. His tongue-in-cheek recounting of men's attitudes about the study of women illustrates a dilemma in the accomplishment of gender equity in scholarship. The dilemma concerns the transformation of gendered identities and forms of production as a result of the study of women, represen- tations of women, and women's education. Lyotard suggests that men intended to draw women into their professional communities and, in the process, re- create women to be more like men. Regardless of whether this re-creation was intended by men and whether women actually re-created themselves, a trans-  1KERRY FREEDMAN formation of gender has occurred, and the collective experience of women has changed as a result. For example, women artists have begun to be written into art history, but often appear as if injected into a story about great men. When women artists are included in mainstream art history texts, they are presented in terms of male models. The models used for male artists in art history tend to represent men as, for example, independent to the point of social isolation, individualistic to the extent of having a unique type of innate genius, and so progressive that they are able to separate themselves from their own history. Such a handling of women in art may be considered a positive development because its authors claim for women the male myths of independence and uniqueness. However, this representation reinforces an illusion about male artists and creates a new one about women. These models focus on individual personalities, rather than the social dynamics of creative communities, and on people and objects isolated from their cultural contexts. The appropriation of such mythical qualities of male artistic production and appreciation have resulted in piecemeal and su- perficial representations of women in mainstream texts because women typical- ly do not fit into these models. In this paper, I will argue that to deal effectively with the issue of gender in art education requires attention to the relationships that exist between student gender identity and visual culture. I use the phrase visual culture to refer to forms of human production that function as manifest images. Teaching visual culture involves a curriculum that encompasses the peculiar sociopolitical, as well as the sensory, formal, and material characteristics and effects of fine art, and goes beyond fine art to include the expressive foundations and implications of multicultural and mainstream artifacts; advertising and other mass media imagery; and designed objects, arrangements, and environments. Such a defini- tion of art education is not new. It has a long history and some art educators, such as Chapman (1978), Feldman (1970), Lanier (1980), and McFee and Degge (1980), have argued extensively for the inclusion of such content in art education. As well as a more inclusive content, requiring a broad conceptualiza- tion of aesthetics, teaching visual culture involves a social reconstruction of pedagogy for personal fulfillment and social change. From this perspective, teaching is not only to promote knowledge for students' personal gains, but to engage students in thinking about knowledge as part of social life. The broad definition of art education as teaching visual culture will enable an analysis of the relationship between gender identity and curriculum. The fol- lowing focuses on three aspects of teaching visual culture related to gender: (a) females as the subject of various forms of visual culture; (b) females as respon- dents to visual culture; and (c) the gendered characteristics of cultural produc- tion by students. To understand these aspects of identity requires attention to the gendered (male and female) character of imagry and response, the power of representation through imagery, and the visual construction of stereotypes and other forms of gender definition that become reified in visual culture. The first section of this paper contains a historical overview of issues of equity in art education, particularly concerning philosophical and scientific conceptions of children's gender differences in artistic production and problems with the notion of common culture. In this section, I will use the term art to represent the general content of public school art education in order to be consistent with historical language of the last hundred years. The second section focuses upon 158  INTERPRETING GENDER AND VISUAL CULTURE interpretive responses to fine art and other forms of visual culture. This analysis draws upon poststructuralism, feminist critique, and literary theory (e.g. de Lauretis, 1987; Foucault, 1969/1972; Kristeva, 1969/1986). In the third section, I summarize a study of adolescent responses to advertising images of women and relate it to art education. Related recommendations for practice are provided following this section. Equity in Art Education of the Past In the past, equity has been dealt with in art education through a focus on two issues, both of which concern identity: the role of the individual as a self- expressive maker of art, and the reflection and reproduction of a common culture through common art experiences for all students (Freedman, 1989a). The first of these has been called child-centered, the second, discipline-cen- tered. Embedded in these conceptions of art education has been the assump- tion that focusing on individual self-expression at one level, and the promotion of a common culture at another level, would override cultural differences and promote equity. However, as Bersson (1987) put it, art education from these perspectives has been neither socially relevant nor culturally democratic (p. 78). Concerns About the Focus on Individualism Several historical models of artistic development have represented the char- acteristics of children's art as universal and biophysical. Except for these as- sumed similarities between children, each child has generally been viewed as completely natural, entirely unique, and without attributes of culture. Such a conception of individualism enables the possibility for belief in a fictional free, self-expression in school (a social institution) through the teaching of art (a product of cultural communities). The focus on this conception of natural individualism in curriculum has resulted in a neglect of cultural similarities and differences. Universal developmental models have begun to be questioned as research has shown that similarities between children's drawings are often copied from popular cultural sources (Wilson & Wilson, 1977) and vary be- tween cultures (Brittain, 1990). However, the sociocultural attributes that con- found this notion of individualism, such as the influence of schooling, mass media, and gendered/ethnic experience, have received little attention by re- searchers in art education. In part, the focus on individualism in school emerged from eighteenth cen- tury Enlightenment philosophy and the writings of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel on early conceptions of a natural education. For example, Rousseau represented boys as living independently and in harmony with nature and girls as being socialized to serve certain purposes. This definition of a natural educa- tion based on male characteristics, and natural differences between the sexes (male individualism and independence, female socialization and depend- ence), was reflected in Froebel's writing and reinforced from the historical beginning of early childhood education in the United States through the use of art activities. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, promoters of child study and other early scientific conceptions of education continued to claim to allow boys and girls to develop naturally. Scientific representations of natural development were limited to a range of norms presented as objec- tively determined but actually laden with social meaning. For example, eugeni- cists claimed that biographical reports of renowned men were proof that North- ern European males were superior to other human beings. 159

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