Art Education Journal Explores Culturally Responsive Teaching

Special Issue of Art Education, the journal of the National Art Education Association, September 2012, vol. 65, no. 5.

Art education editor Christine Ballengee Morris is Professor of Art Education at The Ohio State University. E-mail: Morris.390@osu.eduCover

Guest editor Debra Ambush is an adjunct professor at Corcoran College of Art and Design. Ambush is the past chair of the NAEA Committee of Multiethnic Concerns. She is currently researching the contributions of African Americans to art education and how art education, within historically Black Colleges and Universities, nurtured some of the early development of African American art educators. E-mail: saabsty1@aol.comTitle Page

Guest editor Vesta Daniel is professor of art education at The Ohio State University. Daniel is currently researching the relationship between gentrification in the Bronzeville area of Chicago and community art spaces as places of resistance. Her focus is on the FAIE African Art Gallery in Bronzeville and other surrounding acts of community-based art. E-mail: of Contents

To desegregate is to break down separation of the races and to promote greater equality of opportunity. To integrate is to reach further: to bring together people of different colors and ethnic backgrounds so that they associate not only on an equal basis but also make a real effort to respect the autonomy of other people and to   appreciate the virtues of cultural diversity.”

—James Patterson, 2001, p. 205Table of Contents 

 In the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education supreme court ruling, civil rights scholar James Patterson saw a distinct paradox in the efforts to achieve desegregation in public schools and the simultaneous unhinging of the educational value system in the black community. Implicit in the black community schooling practices were the threads of the black arts academy evident in community practices and traditions. In denoting the difference between desegregation and integration, Patterson suggests the task of either struggling with the concept of equal opportunity or pushing further toward a co-existent cultural autonomy. African Diasporic invisibility has long been the primary tenets of visual arparteid bounded in visual art curriculum design in K-12 public schools. It manefests in the lack of opportunities within public schooling context to talk about artists who confront and express the same dilemmas and their proposed optimism about living in today’s world. Art educators may struggle with issues of access to images, comprehension of philosophical perspectives that are rooted in the African American community, and receptivity to the shift in the educator’s role as artist/ researcher.Table of Contents

This is precisely what makes this moment in art education particularly significant as evidenced in the emergent discussions within the field regarding culturally responsive teaching in art education. As highlighted recently in this special issue of the National Art Education Association, culturally responsive teaching emphasizes the centrality of the visual as a essential component of the psychological health and well being of children who negotiate the terrain of their own emerging self worth, predicated upon the markers of visual culture.  The space to reflect upon, be inspired, and birth 21st century visions is long over due in the design and implementation of visual art curriculum that grounds contemporary youth as empowered consumers and stewards of the visual.Table of Contents

Culturally responsive teaching is informed by and responsive to students’ cultural experiences. These experiences are viewed as assets that give guidance to the creation of transformative curriculum design. As the student population becomes more diverse, culturally responsive teaching can free us and allow us to consider and create more comprehensive, inclusive, and validating teaching materials, strategies, and contexts. We can expand this conceptual field of understanding by reconsidering what can be taught as relevant visual information. Moreover, we have the opportunity to encourage teacher self-reflection and awareness of the impact of social-cultural realities on teaching and learning. In response to the anticipated argument that “this has already been done” we ask: Are some communities, and their sources of knowledge, still not valued and still invisible in schools?

This issue sought to engage the reader in a series of questions and ideas that disrupt exclusionary curricular practices by proposing goals and strategies focused on the opportunity to learn. The existence of visual culture and aesthetics as a part of racial, cultural, and multiethnic narratives has been largely overlooked in historical accounts of art education and its affect on art curriculum development. These omissions signal the need for a closer, deeper, and more refined design for art teacher preparation in the 21st century. The writers of the articles in this issue are emerging scholars who offer approaches to helping teachers and students to amiably and constructively engage in each other’s stories through art experiences.


Patterson, J. T. (2001). Brown V. Board of Education. A civil rights milestone and its troubled legacy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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