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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women artists in twentieth century art history : a secondary school focus Eadie, Myra Anne


Given the recent emphasis in Art Education on the historical and critical as well as the productive modes, of inquiry, it is important that art educators become aware of past biases and distortions in conventional approaches to Art History and become responsive to'current changes in the art world. In this thesis, the proposal is made that a reconceptualization of Art History in Education is needed to expand the framework of the discipline beyond the narrow structure of conventional approaches to allow for the inquiry into the lives and works of women artists. The expanded model proposed in this thesis encompasses the knowledge, constructs and skills that would enable students to investigate the important themes and meanings revealed in the artistic forms of contemporary women artists. A rationale and framework for this expanded approach to critical and historical inquiry is established through a review and analysis of literature. An examination of basic orientations in Art History scholarship and teaching helps to identify the past biases of conventional approaches and provides directions for a re-evaluation of art by women. An analysis of the selected views of sociologists, artists, and art educators concerning the function of role models and their relevance to students provides the rationale for a study of contemporary women artists. Finally, a summary of major developments in Aesthetic Education regarding methods for critical and historical enquiry establishes a framework and methodology for the study of women artists and insures that the content is related to important goals in art education. It is upon this theoretical framework that a model is presented to illuminate one possible open-ended approach to the study of art by women in a cultural and historical context. The first component of this study focuses on the often unique social, economic and political conditions faced by women artists in various times. It is within this historic cultural context that specific works are analyzed, interpreted and evaluated. This context takes into account not only the history of the artists but the needs and interests of the students. The second component of this study provides new strategies for seeing and understanding the ways contemporary women artists have expanded their use of color, form and space to explore a changing self image and a holistic view of nature. Two interrelated themes—interpretations of a human reality revealed in images of women and interpretations of the reality of nature through abstraction—are explored to provide new opportunites for cultural and aesthetic awareness. Finally, a unit, designed and implemented by the author, provides the secondary school teacher with a specific approach to teaching about the work and lives of important women artists. In this unit, students are provided with opportunities to discover new role models, to work collectively and individually, and to integrate the critical, historical and productive modes of inquiry in a major project. It is hoped thatmthis investigation the materials will provide a supplement to existing approaches to Art History and Criticism, and will help establish a broad view of our artistic heritage so that men's art history may eventually become human art history.

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