International Journal of Art & Design Education

Envisioning the Future: Working toward Sustainability in Fine Art Education (pages 36–50)

Volume 35.1   2016



Fine art education provides students with opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills to respond creatively to their experience of society and culture. Fostering creative ways of knowing, thinking and doing requires studio learning conditions that promote the exploration of embodied perceptions, material sensibilities and conceptual ideas that are provisional, socially constructed and ever changing. Traditionally, art schools provided these conditions unchallenged because they were autonomous. Since the 1980s, however, art schools have been integrated into the academy, and face increasing pressure to meet the institutional demands of being in a university. Some argue this changed status means the academy, with its research and pedagogic traditions, is actually straitjacketing creativity. Furthermore, contemporary art practice has changed as artists are increasingly experimenting with interdisciplinary modes of working.
This article discusses a two-year major change initiative, undertaken within an urban Australian art school, designed to respond to this complex set of changed circumstances. It considers ways to address institutional compliance and viability demands while maintaining deeply held values about how to foster creativity in undergraduate students. The outcome is a new organising structure and renewed curriculum for the largest programme offering in the school: the fine art undergraduate degree. Educational renewal is conceptualised as a creative process and the approach to change is thus adapted from creative research methodologies. By treating pedagogy and curriculum design as a creative process, this change initiative, rather than straitjacketing creativity, has re-envisioned an epistemological framework for undergraduate fine art that will sustain creativity education into the future.