HANNAH SWANSON

MA IN ART EDUCATION WITH AN EMPHASIS IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS

(THEY / THEM / THEIRS)
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THESIS: ART EDUCATORS AND THE CREATION OF GENDER VARIANT INCLUSION PRACTICES IN THE ART CLASSROOM: A CLOSE LOOK AT INCLUSION THROUGH PEDAGOGY

I identify as nonbinary and use they/them pronouns. while growing up, I did not have a language for my gender identity. My art classrooms there was no room for me to explore my identity. In fact, art classes showed a lack of understanding toward this identity. Curriculum had no representation of LGBTQ artists, let alone gender variant artists. Never seeing myself represented in art, I felt like I was alone in my gender identity. The lack of inclusion for gender variant students was still apparent during my preservice education and student teaching. Existing research on this topic contains noticeable gaps regarding what inclusive pedagogy looks like for gender variant students specifically in art education. This autoethnographic thesis addresses those gaps. The purpose of this thesis was to better understand the current dialogue surrounding gender variance in the art classroom. What have educators done or not done, and why? What support and resources did need to feel more prepared to support gender variant students? This thesis identified the gaps in knowledge concerning gender variant students in the art room. The findings have the potential to start a dialogue about what resources art educators need to be able to create gender variant inclusive classrooms.

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My art room is to be a place of inquiry, problem solving, play, success, and experience. I believe that art should be student centered; that the student should have agency and autonomy in their art making. Through exploring materials, students will be challenged. They will investigate how art material characteristics work in order to make what they envision. This opens up a world of problem solving for my students. How can I make this sculpture five feet tall? How can I mix a color palette that emulates a stormy day? I believe that students should have choice in their art making. Students learn from repetition — they’re able to go deeper into materials and discover new qualities every time they interact with it. I show my students a variety of artists for them to reference and learn from. This goes beyond the masters. Who’s making work now? How can we learn from them? As an educator, it is incredibly important to me that I foster an art space that’s inclusive to every student who steps through my door. This includes every type of learner. My lesson plans accommodate and modify objectives and actions to make sure every student has access to the materials. As a teacher, I am the support system and guide for my students. I make a safe space for my students to create in.

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