Caucus of Social Theory in Art Education (CSTAE) Interest Group Column: Feb/Mar 2022

NAEA News Feb/Mar 2022

The columns for this issue of NAEA News were written prior to the 2022 National Convention. As such, you may find information about Convention sessions and references to past occurrences in the future tense.

I am writing to you as the newly inducted Coordinator for the Caucus of Social Theory in Art Education. My tenure as Coordinator-Elect coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, so my experience of leadership in CSTAE has been perhaps very different from those in the past. For example, I have never attended a CSTAE Town Hall meeting in person as an officer. For those of you who have never attended, the CSTAE Town Hall meeting at the NAEA Convention is dialogic, a dynamic group discussion about the most pressing topics and theories in art education. The 2020 Town Hall meeting didn’t happen, and the 2021 meeting was held online. Which leads me to wonder, what does it mean for us to actually share space with one another? What is lost when our interactions are limited to virtual exchange?

One of the things I value most about conferences in general are the opportunities to meet up with colleagues in settings such as the Town Hall, where lively discussion emerges as a phenomenon that shapes and changes us. In early 2021, I missed these interactions with many colleagues abroad and at work due to the pandemic. My isolation led me to imagine CSTAE sponsoring monthly online dialogues. From April of 2021 until February of this year, we’ve done just that. If we have lost things through our inability to share space, new opportunities, like the CSTAE Dialogues, have emerged as well. As you may know, we held a dialogue at the first of each month via Zoom. Attendance was open to CSTAE members and beyond with the hope that we might have attendees from a variety of locations and contexts. We adapted the day and time of the meetings as necessary to accommodate as many potential attendees as possible.

The initiative was by no means perfect, but we were able to make connections across space and context. We had preservice teachers, graduate students, K–12 teachers, and those from higher education in attendance. One of the greatest problems faced by the field of art education is our inability to talk across contextual lines. I believe part of the mission of CSTAE is to facilitate these connections. Higher educators in particular should be facilitating conversations and connections among art educators at all levels and venues. The Dialogues were kept intentionally informal, and the conversations often unfolded in organic ways. In a year full of inconsistency and chaos, the Dialogues served as an anchor, something one could engage with spontaneously—a small investment with a generous payout. Thank you to everyone who attended the CSTAE Dialogues. I have connected with art educators I would not have otherwise, and for that I am grateful.

In other CSTAE news, we would like to congratulate two 2021 awardees of the Dr. Melanie Buffington START (Social Theory in Art Research and Teaching) Grant. Arhan Koo, assistant professor of art education at California State University Fresno, received the grant for her project titled “The Appreciation Project,” which will involve preservice art educators and underrepresented populations from the Asian and Latinx communities in identity-focused visual storytelling. Catalina Hernandez-Cabal, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, received the grant for her project titled “String Figuring,” which is a participatory, relational, and movement-based work that will eventually exist as an online work of art and a public resource kit. We are very proud of both awardees, and we look forward to hearing more about their transformative work.

For those interested, a call for proposals for the 2022 Dr. Melanie Buffington START Grant will be circulated in May. We look forward to another year of entangled social, theoretical, and practical engagement in all areas of art education.

Column by:
Emily Jean Hood, CSTAE Coordinator

Cala Coats, CSTAE Columnist and Chair
Assistant Professor and Art Education Area Coordinator, Arizona State University.

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