International Journal of Art & Design Education

Between Technology and Literacy

Volume 22.3   2003



Art education exists between technology and literacy, that is, between the methods social groups use to equip themselves with material objects, to shape and control their environment, and the mastery of specific technologies used to communicate ideas and values. Technology and literacy also function as metaphors, implied comparisons between the visual arts and realms of contemporary education generally seen as possessing higher status in Western cultures. My intent in this historical essay is to examine both terms in historical contexts grounded in North American art education in order to reveal elements of political and social control in these metaphors. While art-making is a means to technical literacy, responding to visual images has been used as a means to maintain social groups and continue particular cultural traditions. Art education itself can be considered one of many technologies useful in managing a complex society, at the same time as it is perceived as a means of human liberation.