Contemporary early childhood teacher education is situated in a knowledge and policy environment where on the one hand student teachers have the opportunity to connect with unlimited knowledge sources and on the other, are expected to conform to increasingly standardised outcomes. In this paper, we argue that this situation demands different ways of teaching and learning in teacher education. The situation is compounded by an increasing achievement gap in Australian education. We argue that if teacher education is to play its part in addressing the inequitable outcomes evident at all levels of education, student teachers must experience a transformative university experience. This paper explores the tensions and possibilities of the contemporary Australian situation and uses the example of an Arts topic to examine ways of positioning student teachers that open up, rather than restrict opportunities to reconceptualise early childhood curriculum. The authors examine the relationship between the intended, enacted and experienced university curriculum. The intent of the Arts topic is that students discover the artist-within; working alongside local Adelaide artists to experience the expressive Arts as creators, communicators, connoisseurs, and critiques. This process is intended to stimulate student thinking about teaching and learning in ways which will enhance young children's engagement with the Arts. As co-constructors (of knowledge) we explore how Art forms intersect, overlap and borrow from each other, believing that meaningfully teaching a rich, comprehensive Arts program starts by understanding what it means to think and experience being an artist. Students' experience of this approach, and implications around the authenticity and sustainability of such artist-in-residency programs will be of interest to those working in Arts education practice, and to those in teacher education more broadly.