Exploring the Spaces of Art Education

Year: 2005

Author: Elsden-Clifton, Dr Jennifer

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The politics of space has been bought to the fore by theorists such as Soja (1996), Bhabha (1991), Grosz (1995), and Foucault (1977). Much of this theory suggests that investigating spatial issues, such as the arrangements of buildings and the distribution of people and objects, can reveal insights into the power hierarchies of people and places. In my research, I was interested to explore how space influenced education, and more specifically, the art classroom. I therefore, adopted a poststructuralist framework of space to analyse my observations of art classrooms and interviews with art teachers in secondary schools in Queensland, Australia. The purpose of this research was twofold: firstly, to explore how teachers, students and educators place and position art in educational spaces; and secondly, to investigate how students and teachers negotiate the spaces within the art classroom. From this discussion, I argue that space influences the creativity and self-expression of art students and the pedagogical methods employed by art teachers. However, I also argue that spatial issues influence the hierarchal positioning of the arts in schools and marginalise its status within educational discourses.