Reflections on a career highlight Kent Anderson: editor 1990-1994. (A Look at the Past).
Despite a rather broad experiential background, (I had also taught junior and senior high art in Grandville, Michigan, and evening and summer studio and art education courses at eight colleges and universities ranging from Texas to Tennessee) I needed some time to consider this exciting and demanding challenge.
History of Connections
My contacts and relationships with SchoolArts go back a very long way. My beginning elementary art teacher at the college lab school that I attended was Jane Rehnstrand, an assistant editor for the magazine in the mid 1930s and early 1940s. When I began my high school teaching career, I identified five magazines that my students were to refer to for assigned readings and extra credit reports, (the other four were Graphis, Art News, Design and Interiors). A closer connection occurred in 1980 when Editor David Baker invited me to become one of the magazine's four contributing editors, contributing an occasional article. I was NAEA president at that time, but had always believed that if something needed doing, give it to a busy person. With this credo in mind, and knowing that the magazine was in excellent condition under Baker's editorship, and with strong support from Davis Publications and SchoolArts staff, I joined David Baker as co-editor in the spring of 1989. Coincidentally, David had just moved from Teachers College, Columbia University to become head of the Department of Art Education at UWM, facilitating the exchange of opinions and sharing of ideas.
Continuity and Change
The following year, I assumed the editorship, keeping in mind that tenet of the Hippocratic oath "do no harm" although I had considered several content and format ideas that I believed would make SchoolArts of even more worth to readers. Also, with the turn of a decade, the magazine's appearance was undergoing a major graphic design changeover. The SchoolArts masthead was changed to a larger, bolder, and more contemporary logo, while retaining its lower-case identity. That logo continued until this year's shift to a digitally-referenced font design. The table of contents page was also re-designed for a cleaner, stronger initial visual impact. And, a new art director was more adventurous in article layout. While this packaging change gave a new look to an 80-year-old publication, the raisone d'etre of SchoolArts' success over so many decades was its content.
Dave Baker was a hard act to follow. As editor, he had combined a sound philosophy of what art education should be and of the role SchoolArts should play in the art education profession and community. A new editor can sweep clean, but a reasonably wise new editor will continue, and build on, the strengths of the preceding editor. While selecting and presenting a stream of articles about the many facets of art education, Dave also developed several features that were well received by subscribers. Foremost among these were Looking/ Learning for its art historical and critical value and ClipCards to provide proven/successful art experiences for K-12 classrooms. My first editorial in the September, 1989 issue was titled Most Things Old, Some Things New. It assured readers that any changes would be minimal with the continuance of popular features such as Showcase and Art Is along with Looking/Learning and ClipCards. More important was the continuation of the select and qualitative mix of articles that would best serve the needs of art teachers at all levels of instruction and special interest. As with past editorships, an important factor in the value and continuing success of SchoolArts was reflecting the emerging directions and philosophies of leaders in our field, while anticipating the current needs and interests of art teacher subscribers.
To insure both breadth and depth in each issue and year's offerings, I included at least one article in every issue promoting what I believed was meaningful professional growth. Under the title Focus, articles appeared within the following set of headings:
Curriculum Profile, presenting an in-depth look at the planning and implementation of exemplary curriculum models in settings that included Pittsburgh's Arts Propel Project to a Japanese elementary school, an elementary level architectural curriculum in Nebraska and an Australian curriculum assessment model.
Field Trip visited successful art programs, providing a visual and verbal entry into artrooms and departments at all levels. Schools visited ranged from Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe Arizona to the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, and a Navajo elementary school. Usually this feature included photographs of school furniture and equipment arrangements, and floor plan diagrams.
The idea for SchoolArts Classics emerged after a number of large, heavy boxes arrived from Worcester as I was about to begin my editorship. They contained bound volumes of all issues of SchoolArts going back to 1901. In looking through these past issues, one cannot avoid noting the many commonalities present in sound art instruction, whatever the decade. No other publication in our field can go back to 1901 to reprise the best thinking and writing of prominent art educators from Dewey to Barkin to Eisner. It was a genuine pleasure to review these volumes and identify writings from the 1900s, the 20s, 30s and beyond, that were still relevant today and well deserved reprise to a newer generation of art educators.
Student View enabled students--from an articulate sixth grader in Wilmette, Illinois, to university students--to describe their art class experiences and express their unique art education opinions and beliefs.
The last feature in this series was Issues in Art Education, where art teacher/authors could submit articles about problems that confronted them in their teaching, as well as describing how they dealt with issues ranging from how to deal with controversial art, policies on contests and competitions, extreme student art, the problem class, and more.
Beyond the Focus features, several other new departments were established. These included A Child's Gallery, Crafts in Culture, Computer Bits and Bytes/ New Technologies, and five features that continue to appear in SchoolArts today: Clipboard, a utilization of the inside of the outer wrapper for last-minute bulletins and timely information; Handout; the Express Yourself insert; and Verso.
The latter feature was conceived as a lively endgame combining interesting miscellaneous information about art, artists, and education with humor, pertinent quotations, and cartoons relevant to art teachers. Elementary art teacher Shawn Costello deserves accolades for the many well-drawn and witty cartoons she submitted over a number of years. Other memorable features and series include the Art Teacher's Viewpoint Survey conducted by Laura Chapman and Connie Newton that surely provided the basis for numerous theses and dissertations.
Issues of the Time
In keeping with the tenor of the times, a conscious effort was made to present women artists in the Looking/Learning department. Examples included Helen Frankenthaler, Sandy Skoglund, Kathe Kollwitz, Laurie Simmons, Mary Cassatt, Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith, Elizabeth Catlett, Lucy Lewis, and Bettye Saar. Another major issue in art education in the late 80s and early 90s was the need to emphasize diversity and multiculturalism. In addition to the last four women artists noted, Looking/ Learning attempted to meet this concern with double-page spreads on Romare Beardon, Simon Sparrow, Nam June Paik, and examples of art and craft from Haiti, Egypt, Panama, China, Japan, Mexico, Africa, and more. Other issues of the day, including special educational needs, interdisciplinary curriculum, DBAE, advocacy strategies and emerging attention to computerized images were also attended to in articles and editorials. A minor, but editor-pleasing event was the shift from black and white to color for the ClipCard feature.
A Pleasure and Privilege
While much has been made here of editor-initiated content, the heart of SchoolArts has always been the contributions of individual art teachers without whose articles on art activities, processes, and programs would leave SchoolArts but a hollow shell. A pleasure-full perk for any editor is the arrival of the mail, with unexpected treasures in the form of articles and photographs arriving daily. The continuing flow of articles from all parts of the United States and many foreign nations, and from all levels and niches of instruction and philosophy, make editing SchoolArts a pleasure. The privilege of reading these many valued contributions also provides rare insight into the state of art education. The only pain attached to this editorial responsibility is the reality of limited space in the magazine, and the necessity to reject many worthwhile articles.
In reference to limited space, I am reminded that space allotted to this article doesn't allow me to properly thank the managerial, editorial, and design staff at Davis Publications/SchoolArts that support and produce the finished magazine each month; nor is there room to name the many art educators who authored the articles, took the photographs, and who continue to contribute to the success of this flagship periodical of art education. I regard my relatively brief tenure as editor, especially in relationship to the 40-plus years of Pedro de Lemos, as one small link in the very strong chain of a premier education publication. I consider my thirty-year involvement with SchoolArts, continuing into the present time in Resource Center, as one of my major rewards, accomplishments, and privileges in a long career in art education.
Kent Anderson, a past president of the NAEA, is a retired art teacher and curriculum specialist for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Schools.
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|Date:||Apr 1, 2002|
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