Pinhole photograph of a high school by Molly Chann
. Courtesy of New Urban Arts

Visual Arts Research Call for Papers

Art Teacher Certification and Community-Based Arts Education

Guest Editor:
 Tyler Denmead
University of Illinois, 

Submissions due June 1, 2014

Visual Arts Research seeks papers for a special issue that discusses how community-based arts education and art teacher certification might together influence university art education programs. Interest in community-based arts education (CBAE) is growing as art education is being squeezed out of some schools. Yet the distance between school-based art teaching and CBAE, in theory and in practice, remains. Some community-based arts educators view school art as depoliticized and formalist. Some school-based educators view community art as lacking rigor and posing a threat to art teachers’ jobs. Art teacher certification programs have been slow to offer pathways for artists, teachers, citizens, and activists working outside schools. Nor have community arts educators found productive ways to influence school art practices and policy. These differences may become more pronounced as certification programs negotiate public skepticism of university-based teacher certification, contracting demand for art teachers, and the churning imposition of state mandates.

The formation of CBAE as an academic discipline is also contentious. Some CBAE practitioners use the arts to address social problems where people live and work. Some seek alternative social formations inspired by art, craft, and design. Still others democratize participation in art making and enlarge what practices count as legitimate. Using academic qualification to demarcate experts and amateurs while regulating their skills and practices is in tension with CBAE values and practices. But CBAE’s emergence as an academic discipline expands the purview of art education, and the future of art education may depend on exploring its mutual interests with art teacher certification. Considering this shared influence is the purpose of this special issue of VAR.

Suggested topics for the issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Alternative and/or multi-sited pathways for training art educators in schools, prisons, museums, and after-school programs, including modifications to “Saturday Art School” or early-field experience
  • Problematizing divisions between “community artist” and “school teacher” or “school” and “community” settings
  • Cases for/against art education’s role in professionalizing CBAE
  • Analysis of the “market” for art teachers and CBAE practitioners
  • Negotiating CBAE & state mandates for art teacher certification
  • Opportunities and threats, real and imagined, for CBAE in relation to public schooling, and vice versa
  • Contributions of social practice, community organizing, and social activism to school art teaching and CBAE

We invite papers on these and other related topics. To reflect our international readership and the global significance of art in community life, submissions from art educators outside North America are welcome.  Submissions are encouraged from those who are and who are not employed by universities.  Critical addressing of problems, not merely advocacy-oriented accounts of “success stories” and “best practices,” are desired.

Submission guidelines can be found at here.

Inquiries about this special issue should be directed to tdenmead (at)

Visual Arts Research, now in its 40th year, is published twice a year by the University of Illinois Press, through the Art Education Division at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

For information about subscriptions to VAR please visit the VAR website.