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Artful Works and Dialogue about Art as Experience
Volume Editors: and
Awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2022 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award

Imagining Dewey features productive (re)interpretations of 21st century experience using the lens of John Dewey’s Art as Experience, through the doubled task of putting an array of international philosophers, educators, and artists-researchers in transactional dialogue and on equal footing in an academic text. This book is a pragmatic attempt to encourage application of aesthetic learning and living, ekphrasic interpretation, critical art, and agonist pluralism.

There are two foci: (a) Deweyan philosophy and educational themes with (b) analysis and examples of how educators, artists, and researchers envision and enact artful meaning making. This structure meets the needs of university and high school audiences, who are accustomed to learning about challenging ideas through multimedia and aesthetic experience.

Contributors are: James M. Albrecht, Adam I. Attwood, John Baldacchino, Carolyn L. Berenato, M. Cristina Di Gregori, Holly Fairbank, Jim Garrison, Amanda Gulla, Bethany Henning, Jessica Heybach, David L. Hildebrand, Ellyn Lyle, Livio Mattarollo, Christy McConnell Moroye, María-Isabel Moreno-Montoro, María Martínez Morales, Stephen M. Noonan, Louise G. Phillips, Scott L. Pratt, Joaquin Roldan, Leopoldo Rueda, Tadd Ruetenik, Leísa Sasso, Bruce Uhrmacher, David Vessey, Ricardo Marín Viadel, Sean Wiebe, Li Xu and Martha Patricia Espíritu Zavalza.
Chapter 12 Aesthetic Experiences and Dewey’s Descendants
Author:

Abstract

This chapter examines the influence of Dewey’s Art as Experience on 21st century urban teacher education by tracing its themes related to the importance of engagement with works of art in educational contexts through the work of Maxine Greene and Louise Rosenblatt and applying the teachings of these three philosophers in English education teaching methods courses. As Dewey speaks of the nature of perception in the context of having an aesthetic experience, he addresses the need for active engagement in response to works of art. Both Greene and Rosenblatt take up this concept—Greene through art-making as a kind of apprenticeship that opens up learners’ imaginations and allows them to understand the process artists undergo in bringing ideas into the world of concrete reality; and Rosenblatt, through her discussion of the transactional nature of reading literature (which can be extrapolated to other art forms).

I specifically address the use of ekphrastic poetry in a graduate English class taken by first and second year middle and high school English teachers in a graduate program in English education, and include examples of students’ poems and their reflections on their processes and implications for their own teaching practices. The chapter also discusses the process of developing experiences with an intention to help teachers enhance both their content knowledge and their ability to engage their middle and high school students by offering opportunities for creative expression that fosters voice and a sense of agency.

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 18 Aesthetic Experiences of Making with Paper

Abstract

Artists bring heightened awareness of sensation and material qualities in the experience of making. In this chapter, I portray the sensate experience of making with paper spurred by artists as embedded living installations in The Corner—a play/making space for under eight year olds in the State Library of Queensland, Australia. I look closely at the experience of making as inherently connected to aesthetics (); in particular making with paper. Three artists make with paper on different days. Each brings different insights of the sensuous qualities and making capacities of paper.

Children and their families make with the artists. Intense focus is experienced. The unlimited possibilities of paper come to be known in a library—a place of books—preserved entities made of paper; yet, in The Corner of the library, paper can be reconfigured—is reconfigured—opening up the wonder of the aesthetic experience of mattering, imagining, and making with paper. Attention to sensation, matter and making were gathered through sensory ethnography (Pink, 2015), aesthetic sensibilities and understanding of the vibrancy of matter (). Performative accounts of artist making experiences with paper are shared to glean what happens in the experiences of making; what we come to sense, to know, to be and connect across generations and communities. Material literacies unfold.

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 4 The Aesthetics of Rehearsal
Author:

Abstract

This chapter considers conceptions of music and their relation to rehearsal and then considers music and rehearsal in the context of Dewey’s Art as Experience. For Dewey, music is not a score or an ideal performance, it is an actual performance that unifies the score, performers, & audience in an aesthetic experience. It is argued that rehearsals are also aesthetic experiences and that the aesthetic quality of the rehearsal affects both present experience and the production of future aesthetic experiences. I take as a case study a series of rehearsals and performances of John Adams’s opera, Nixon in China. Rehearsals are part of the process of gaining control over the materials and resources of production. This process is not only technical practice, but also involves achieving qualities of a performance as an aesthetic experience complete in itself.

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 1 Art as Experience, Experience as Art

Abstract

Regarding Dewey’s aim in Art as Experience and the complexities of his proposal, we would like to provide a clarifying reading about the different sense in which Dewey uses the word art and how they are related to different aspects of his philosophical account of experience. The interpretive hypothesis we would like to explore is that the word ‘art’ in Dewey bears at least two meanings; a broad one related to the practical and transformative dimension of action and the derivative and narrow one, useful to refer to fine arts or artistic activities, as we prefer to name them. In order to accomplish the goal of this chapter, we will first analyze the Deweyan notion of experience to emphasize its practical and transactional character as well as the distinction he introduces between consummated and not consummated experiences. Secondly, we will highlight the continuities presented by Dewey between experience and artistic practices, considering that the latter focuses on the qualitative dimension of experience. To conclude, we will attempt to shed some light on Dewey’s uses of the term art to point out why experience is art, in the sense of practice. As well, art is experience in the sense of being rooted in the conditions of ordinary life, taking into account that viewing art as experience and vice versa allows for a better understanding of Dewey’s stance on the notion of experience as well as his theory of fine arts or artistic activities.

In: Imagining Dewey
Part 1 Art Is/Is Not Experience
In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 13 “Art Is More Moral than Moralities”

Abstract

This chapter explores John Dewey’s pragmatic rationale for the educative and moral power of art and considers how it might inform the practices of educators who teach literature. By insisting that the work of art exists only in the experiences it generates in percipients, Dewey reminds educators that the moral and educative power of art emerges from the quality of esthetic experience students enjoy in their interactions with an art product. For Dewey, art generates experiences that embody the imaginative, mutually transforming interaction of self and world that typifies consummatory experience. The chapter discusses a key scene from autobiography as an example of how the educative power of a literary work might reside in the quality of students’ esthetic experience. Following Dewey’s model of educative experience, the fundamental job of a teacher is first to help students have richer esthetic responses to the text, and then to help students direct or extend the energy of these experiences into other opportunities for action and growth. The chapter considers how these goals might be pursued at the level of classroom strategies, and argues that taking Dewey seriously would require us to teach arts alongside other subjects in more integrated and interdisciplinary curricular programs. The chapter concludes by considering how the moral function of arts in-and-as education supports Dewey’s larger political vision of democratic social reform or “reconstruction.”

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 3 Art Is (Not) Experience

Abstract

By exercising their autonomy—as free and intelligent beings—women and men make art by deed of their historicity as a dynamic social relation. This explains why, when we talk about art and education, we are talking about matters that we experience as being factually there, in their fullness and not as part of a universe of identical elements. However, this raises a question over the relationship between a critical and experiential approach to art, which, as Dewey would argue, would enhance the possibility of experimentation and pragmatic openness. But here we are challenged by a double bind between what is within (as immanence qua interiority) and that which is found outwith art as an autonomous form which, as an object that is made, equally relates to the outward experience that (a) is lived as art and (b) prompts us to make art.

While some would either dismiss this double bind or seek to resolve it, I would argue that the inherent aporia that this represents comes with a disclaimer, especially when we take a closer look at the relationship between art, experience and education, where neither education nor art could be construed as experience. This is where I would like to position my approach to Dewey’s Art as Experience. Using both text and image, I propose to critique an often-misconstrued interpretation of what he means by art as experience, and how this needs to be read in the context of other major books of his, notably Experience and Nature. Here I am proposing that we read Art as Experience in reverse.

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 17 Articulation from an Aesthetic Environment

Abstract

This chapter describes the construction of project area for a/r/tographic practice in the teacher education programs at a university in the degree courses in Early Child Education. These practices are based on Deweyan concepts of experience; specifically, that the value of experience does not reside in the object or situation that produces it, but in the consequences and impacts on the participants, who experience it. A/r/tographic research is understood to be collective and relational, which enables forms of networking, as it enacts connection between participants within unfolding situations. With this, one of the primary aims of this research lies in promoting a/r/tographic actions, in which the participants involved build their own structures of organization and production of their own experience. A/r/tographic research practices are based on experience as the central concept, a space and place for relationships, and an organization or network of people involved.

In: Imagining Dewey
Chapter 21 Arts Based Educational Research and Social Transformation

Abstract

Dewey’s concept of experience, developed in relation to art, is inspiring for art education projects in schools. When the school is in a marginalized social context, this idea is even more important, because social marginalization corresponds to artistic marginalization. A/r/tography is a methodological approach within arts based educational research, which proposes to develop simultaneously three dimensions in the same project: artistic creation (artist), education (teacher) and research (researcher). Project BombeArte in Tegucigalpa, Honduras is a social a/r/tography approach in visual arts. As a main objective, two of the a/r/tographic interventions transformed the space and the classroom furniture into a contemporary art exhibition. The challenge was to transfigure the functional environment of school, through a participatory intervention of students and teachers, in a surprising visual installation. A/r/tography proposals developed the visual answers to two questions: What would I like to say to my desk, in which I spend so many hours sitting? What would I like to see through the window of my classroom? The two collaborative interventions proposed writing in prohibited places in school. This dynamic process between each of the individual marks in the installation and their relationship to those of the other people in the school can be interpreted through Dewey’s thinking.

In: Imagining Dewey