From left: Katherine Schneider, Amanda
Deibert, Marilyn Stewart, Zoe DeHart,
Cassie Langan, and Ellen Pados. Not
shown: Amy Ahn and Jennifer Low.
A Serendipitous Collaboration All Levels
The phone call came as I was preparing my art education graduate curriculum course for the upcoming semester.
Wyatt Wade, president of Davis Publications, and Nancy Walkup, editor
of School Arts, wanted me to write
the Looking and Learning feature for
the 2010–11 volume of the magazine.
What made this assignment really
interesting was the fact that they also
wanted to highlight contemporary art,
and to that end, suggested a focus on
artists, artworks, and to some extent,
themes featured in the PBS series
them, and considered issues such as
diversity and age-appropriateness.
This project sounded like fun, especially because I decided to include
my curriculum students in the process. After all, the kind of thinking
involved would address what stands
at the heart of curriculum decision-making. We would need to consider
basic, foundational ideas about who
our students are, what is important
for them to learn, and how this learning can best be accomplished.
Besides, I love to collaborate. Prob-
ably the most ambitious curriculum
project for me was the collaboration
with my friend and colleague, Eldon
Katter, to create the textbook series,
Explorations in Art, for Davis Publica-
tions. Rethinking Curriculum in Art,
co-authored with Sydney Walker, was
another important collaboration.
Exploring Contemporary Art
My students unanimously agreed
to take on the project. They liked
the focus on contemporary art. It is
important for students to realize that
artists live in their world, see what
they see, and grapple with issues and
ideas that surround us all. We began
by brainstorming about the themes for
the year, looking for embedded ideas
and connections with students’ lives.
We wanted to note obvious, but also
subtle ways to think about the theme.
Each student selected artists
and artworks based on an assigned
theme and brought their selections
in for consideration. Each week we
discussed the pros and cons of the
selected artworks, imagined how we
might engage students in exploring
Marilyn Stewart is professor of art education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, co-author of Explorations in Art and
Rethinking Curriculum in Art, author of
Thinking Through Aesthetics, and editor
of the Art Education in Practice series, all
published by Davis Publications.