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Theory and Research


The project is influenced and inspired by theories and practices of contemporary art and education that situate the learner, viewer, or participant within a sociocultural and communal context with an emphasis on inter-relationships in the processes of generating meaning. With the advent of common core education reform in the United States, the pedagogical shift away from standards-based education has earned new audiences for the concepts of student-centered learning inspired by classic texts such as John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1943), Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968), and Howard Gardner’s Art Mind Brain (1982). At the same time, artists, critics, and curators have increasingly explored issues and practices surrounding the relationship between art and the public, notably in Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics (1998/2002), Jacques Rancière’s Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art, and Grant Kester’s The One and the Many (2011). Influential sociocultural and educational theories ground the ideas of contemporary artists and educators and many are referenced by contributors, including Paolo Freire’s critical pedagogy, Arthur Efland’s analysis of art and psychology, John Dewey’s conception of art and democracy, Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and, more contemporarily, Doreen Nelson’s design-based learning theory.

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