Using art as a tool for personal empowerment within a traditional art curriculum


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Using art as a tool for personal empowerment within a traditional art curriculum
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Project in lieu of thesis
Mackey, Jennifer Costello
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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In today’s society many of youth are faced with more and more difficulties including but not limited to depression, anxiety, violence, addictions, changes in family dynamics, and financial difficulties. Indeed, students today lead complex lives, fraught with disappointments and difficulties. Furthermore, the lack of available creative and emotional outlets for our students today suggest a need for adapting our school art curricula to include art activities that provide opportunities for students to reflect on and express aspects about the complexities and difficulties of their lives. I maintain in this paper that the inclusion of certain expressive art projects into the traditional art curriculum at all grade levels would address the aforementioned problems. Art classes already act as an outlet for our youth to engage creative learning activities that stand apart from the daily stressors and traditional academic material of the typical school curriculum. With the inclusion of particular kinds of expressive art activities implemented into today’s art curricula, art educators could facilitate students’ sense of personal knowledge and empowerment. My goal with this capstone project is to test these assertions in my own art program, and to document how students respond to expressive arts activities that I have designed for them. These expressive art activities will be integrated within my traditional art classroom curricula. For this research project I have designed, taught, and studied what happens in these learning activities, and I have created a web site for teachers who are similarly looking to integrate the expressive arts into their already established art curriculum. My website includes helpful links, projects ideas, photographs of my teaching journal and student work (
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Art education terminal project

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2 2012 Jennifer Costello Mackey


3 To All Those Who Use Art as a Form of Self Empowerment




5 ACKNOWLE DGEMENTS I would like to thank my Supervisory Committee, Elizabeth Delacruz and Craig Roland, for all the time they put in to help me create this project in lieu of thesis. I would also like to thank my parents, Patrick and Judy Costello, for always being there for me and always supporting my love for the arts, and my husband, Joe, who encouraged me throughout my graduate school experience. I never thought I would get this far. Thank you for supporting me and helping me follow my dreams.


6 LI ST OF FIGURES Figure Page Multi 20 8: Screen shot of Home page: 10: Age 19, Fe male, Marker and Tempera, Mood Painting to Music 11: Age 17, Female, Pastel and Tempera, Mood Painting to Music 12: Age 14, Female, Tempera and Pastel, Mood Painting to Music 13: Age 14, Female, Tempera, Mood Painting to Music 14: Age 14, Male, Colored Pencil and Ink, A Postcard to Never Send 15: Age 14, Male, Colored Pencil and Ink, A Postcard to Never Send 18: Jennifer Costello Mackey, Riot at the Factory Art


7 ABSTRACT OF CAPSTONE PROJECT PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS USING ART AS A TOOL FOR PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT WITHIN A TRADIT IONAL ART CURRICULM By Jennifer Costello Mackey April 2012 Chair: Elizabeth Delacruz Committee Member: Craig Roland Major: Art Education ABSTRACT many of youth are faced with more and more difficulties including but not limited to dep ression, anxiety, violence, addictions, changes in family dynamics, and financial difficulties. Indeed, students today lead complex lives, fraught with disappointments and difficulties. Furthermore, the lack of available creative and emotional outlets for our students today suggest a need for adapting our school art curricula to include art activities that provide opportunities for students to reflect on and express aspects about the complexities and difficulties of their lives. I maintain in this paper th at the inclusion of certain expressive art projects into the traditional art curriculum at all grade levels would address the aforementioned problems. Art classes already act as an outlet for our youth to engage creative learning activities that stand


8 apar t from the daily stressors and traditional academic material of the typical school curriculum. With the inclusion of particular kinds of expressive art activities implemented sonal knowledge and empowerment. My goal with this capstone project is to test these assertions in my own art program, and to document how students respond to expressive arts activities that I have designed for them. These expressive art activities will be integrated within my traditional art classroom curricula. For this research project I have designed, taught, and studied what happens in these learning activities, and I have created a web site for teachers who are similarly looking to integrate the expre ssive arts into their already established art curriculum. My website includes helpful links, projects ideas, photographs of my teac hing journal and student work (


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The expressive a rts are an approach to art making that focuses heavily on the expressive arts are just one type of art making that can be used to facilitate student creative self expres sion and self empowerment. The purpose of my study is to find how students respond to specific expressive art activities that are integrated into a traditional art curriculum. My expressive arts oriented lessons are designed to encourage student self expr ession, reflection, and empowerment. I am interested in this approach because of my own personal experience with using art as a form of reflection and emotional release for myself. For my entire life, I have suffered from anorexia, bulimia, depression, and anxiety. Art has been an avenue for me to express my feelings about my diseases and disorders. Although I make no claims that expressive arts will similarly provide my students with equally positive benefits, and I have no personal knowledge about my stu such an expressive arts approach with our youth will show them that art can be an outlet for them as it has been for me. I hope that their continued engagement with expr essive art making, as they encounter life beyond my classroom or this academic year, will empower them for years to come. Studies have shown that art making has been found to be beneficial to children who have been subjected to stressful events in their l ives (Darley & Heath, 2007). With this beneficial potential in mind, I would like to expand my art curriculum to include lessons that expose students to art activities that will enable them to express their feelings, experiences, and problems. I believe th at other art programs might similarly


10 include expressive arts as part of their programing. Including such expressive arts programming in a traditional school art curriculum requires that I first identify activities that students react to most positively. From there, I would hope that expressive arts would eventually be added to our national, state, and local school art curricula. I began my research for this project by creating and integrating expressive art activities into my traditionally designed art c urriculum that already existed within my classroom. This curriculum adheres to the art learning standards in my state, the New Generation Sunshine State Standards. Second, I sought and gained permission to conduct this study from my school, and from both t he students and their parent(s) of my first period 2 D Composition I (aka 2 D Comp I) class that I teach at Riverview High School in Riverview, Florida. I have also sought and received approval for this study from the University of Florida Institutional Re search Board. My first period 2 D Comp I class comprising my study group consisted of 35 students ranging in ages 14 19, with 14 males and 21 females, and representing various cultural backgrounds. I implemented and studied three different art projects wi th this study group. These projects consisted of a cultural self portrait, a postcard to never send, and mood painting to music. Within my first period 2 D Comp classroom, I observed and recorded photographed their artwork. During the study, I also asked students to give me informal verbal feedback during class the data I collected from these observations conversations, photographs, journals, and surveys to determine how students responded and which activities students responded


11 to most positively within this classroom. The remainder of this paper further explains my study goals, activities and findings. Statement of the Problem In conducting research for my study, I began to see there was a lack of readily available resources and research in the area of the expressive arts being integrated into traditional K 12 school art curricula. I searched for writin gs and art projects that fit into a New Generation Florida Sunshine State Standards based art curriculum, but that also included the expressive arts within these lessons. I felt the need to study and collect evidence about what high school students think a bout projects that follow the Sunshine State Standards but also have the expressive arts activities integrated into them. I found that there were no writings about expressive art projects that had been tested by Florida high school teachers and that fit un der the Sunshine State Standards. Without stu dying this topic and finding how students respond to such art making approaches, we may never see the implementation of the expressive arts into the traditional art curriculum. Significance of Project Today in A merica and across the world, there are rising problems in local communities that greatly affect children and their families. Some of the issues that have risen as a result of our current economic recession include homelessness, unemployment, rise in cost o f living, family disputes over finances, hunger, and cuts of funding to education. As a result of these devastating conditions, I have seen students being affected emotionally by the aforementioned issues and in turn, I have seen that some of my students have lowered self esteem and are more stressed than ever


12 attention, or ask for help by getting in trouble, failing classes, doing drugs, or even worse harming others o might be reduced by providing students with supportive, structured opportunities to reflect on and share their feelings about life circumstances. The implementation of expressive arts into the traditional art curricula that fosters student self reflection and self empowerment is one such way. As art educators, I feel we need to do what is best for our students and to look for new ways to help them succeed in school and in life. Art is one of t hose tools that could help students tremendously by teaching them how to identify, understand, and express their emotions in a healthy way. I know that there are already some art teachers implementing the expressive arts and other innovative projects into their curricula, but not enough. I believe that my study can help other art educators as well as myself to create an overall art stronger art program. I also believe wi th this type of art curriculum that teachers can become more in touch with the realitie s of and as a result teachers would have a n improved rapport with their students. Limitations In order to complete this study successfully, I had to set some of my own personal preferences aside regarding what art projects I felt we re the best for the students, and let the results from the data collected tell the story. Additionally, there are constraints of time (my research took place over only a few weeks), age levels (my research was conducted with high school students, and a lac k of participation from the other art teachers and students in my school district. In other words, my findings are generalizable only to my own classroom. Through my study, I will only be able to follow


13 h a course of a few months rather than years, which also means that I will never know the long term benefits of such an approach to art curriculum planning. This study will only show the short term effects from the use of the expressive arts in my classroo m. Since I was the only teacher conducting this study, the results are limited to the specific cultural and age groups of the students who participated at my school. An additional limitation is that students could act differently because they are aware tha t the study is going on, which I have attempted to seamlessly integrate the expressive activities into already existing es to behave differently just because they are participants in a study. In this study, I will not attempt to diagnose or recommend psychological treatment for students based on their behaviors or artwork. I am not a trained psychologist or art therapist a nd will leave that up to those in that profession. I will not attempt to give art therapy to students. Rather, I will introduce them to the expressive art lessons. I will show them the arts can serve as a form of reflection and self empowerment for them an d have positive effects on their self esteem.


14 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The topics I researched for my project included how the arts are used as a tool for self expression, healing, and empowerment. The literature I looked at could be further b roken down into three categories: Art Therapy/Expressive Arts in Schools, Art Therapy/Expressive Arts with Children and Adolescents, and Expressive Art Activities. In these specific areas, there are educators, theorists, and authors who have worked in and studied expressive arts the within the field of art education. These include Elliot Eisner Viktor Lowenfeld, and Sir Herbert Read, and more recently, Cathy Malchiodi and Rebecca Plummer Rohloff These scholars and art educators believed that the arts were beneficial for all who participate d in them, but they differ in the ways they define the expressive/ creative arts. A precise definition for the expressive arts still remains unclear, even though there has been more research on the topic in the past coupl e decades. When looking online, you can find various definitions of what people believe to be the expressive arts. From the various definitions, I propose a well rounded definition that I feel we can all follow as art educators. For the purpose of this stu dy, I define expressive arts as follows: embrace creative self expression, reflection, and self empowerment. This definition encapsulates many the current definitions regardi ng what the expressive arts different from the regular art curriculum in place throughout public low for my audience to fully realize the importance of my study. Currently, many art programs


15 across the United States follow a standards based orientation, one that is strongly aligned with Discipline based art education (DBAE). DBAE focuses highly on the cultural and historical aspects of art (Clark, Day, & Greer, 1987). This approach to art education tends to minimize personal self expression due to the intense focus on learning the language of art (elements and principles), demonstrating understanding of that language in art products created in the classroom, rather than focusing on the intimate and personal aspects of the processes and meanings of making the art itself. be cre ative They struggle to just make art freely and allow themselves to just be expressive and make art just for the sake of making it. I find that our art students need the freedom to be creative and to make art that is purely expressive and more about the process of the making of it rather than how perfect it is in the end. Art educators who also believed in this type of art making included Elliot Eisn er Viktor Lowenfeld, and Sir Herbert Read. The Arts and the Creatio n of Mind (2004), Eisner mentions the two art educators he felt were very influential in the world of art education for promoting creative self expression. In his text, process t hat emancipated the spirit and provided an outlet for the creative impulse (p. 32). Lowenfeld also believed that that the creative impulse had a therapeutic benefit along with an educational benefit (Eisner, 2004). Lowenfeld observed that a child who used the arts as a creative activity and an emotional outlet would gain a sense of freedom, flexibility, and release of tension (Eisner, 2004). In a another article by Eisner


16 discussions academic content, artistic forms of learning, and ways of dealing with accountability, ultimately we are concerned with students and with their overall devel opment as well as their particular development in the arts. I know as a former high school art teacher that some of the most gratifying moments in my teaching life, including the time that I have been at Stanford, were during episodes in my art room in whi ch I touched a student's life or a student touched mine. Such relationships with others, with what is said to them, how they are supported, the vision we help them form of their own possibilities are among the most important things we teach, whether we are teaching art or social studies, whether the subject is mathematics or physics. The student and his or her life is what we must most deeply care about. The arts in the plural and the visual arts in particular are enhancements of life, but what a teacher as a human being contributes to his or her students' lives exceeds the scope of art, even agree more with Eisner as he shares the same views that I have towards the exp ressive arts in the classroom. He offers many compelling reasons for why teachers would want to integrate more creative/ expressive arts projects into their curriculum. Students and teachers would benefit not just artistically, but also emotionally, making them more flexible when it comes to changes in life and in the classroom, not to mention be less stressed by relieving their tension through the making of the art. Another art scholar who also believes that the expressive arts are beneficial to children and adolescents is Cathy A. Malchiodi. Malchiodi is a leading writer and author in the fields of art therapy and expressive art therapies. Malchiodi has published many


17 books on different subjects relating to the expressive arts and how they can be used in the medical, psychiatric, and educational fields. In one of her books, Expressive Therapies (2006), Malchiodi believes the expressive arts / art therapy to be therapeutic means or reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self awareness, developing s o cial skills, man aging behavior, solving problems, reducing anxiety aiding reality orientation, and increasing self esteem for children and adolescents to develop in order to be successful students and eventually these skills, which were once taught by parents and reinforced within strong become product ive and responsible citizens in society. Another art educator who has had a heightened interest in the expressive arts is an art education professor at Salem State University in Massachusetts, Rebecca Plummer Rohloff. Rohloff studied the expressive arts f or many years. She also studied Hospital. Rohloff used her studies at Shands to create an approach to art making she labeled the Imaginarium Imagin arium seeks to tap into the power of the creative/expressive arts and how it can help adults as well children to discover their Imaginarium approach is increased self knowledge and increased self esteem (Rohloff, 2008). With this study, Rohloff created her own artistic journals to document her research, ideas, and findings.


18 Arts in Medicine Imaginarium IV (2007) as a r eference. In this journal, Rohloff documents her research on the history of the arts being used to aid in the well being of humans. This has informed my study by demonstrating to me that the expressive arts have been used to es teem and well being for many years, all the way back to the Greeks and Egyptians (Rohloff, 2007). I was so inspired by the beauty and depth of meaning of her journal, that I decided to make my own artist journal as a part of my capstone project for the Mas incorporate these types of journals into my classroom as a student assignment. Front Cover and Page, Multi Media


19 Figure 2: Jennifer Costello Marker and Collage Rohloff also inspired me through some of the points she made in her dissertation for her degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Art Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2008. In her that points learners towards the discovery of their own internal, creative agency and This statement was very pow erful to me because it is a goal I have for my art education curriculum. I want my art curriculum not to be just about art technique s, art elements, and art history. I want my art curriculum to be something that affords life changing inquiry for my student painting, drawing, and collage, the creative process is a passionate and compassionate dialogue a reality check and a reminder of my truest identity, purpose, and


20 responsibility to the human commun on my students as it has for both Rohloff and I. I want my students to realize that art can be used as a tool to express their emotions and creativity. My Own Narrative At this point, it is useful to re aders to know something more about my own passion for this approach to art making and art education. Since I was a child, I have overcome one of the most challenging battles, which was the fight for my life. In 2007, at the age of 23, I became anorexic and an exercise bulimic. I got down to 81 pounds and sought help at a local inpatient rehabilitation program. After 45 days of what I would not go back to my addictions in the real world. In order to do this, I turned to Alcoholics Anonymous, N arcotics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous groups to have someone to talk to and share my feeling with, and also my art. In the spring of 2008, my last semester of college and the semester after being released from treatment, I decided to do my senior th esis show on Anorexia and Bulimia to educate others about the diseases and also to help myself express how I was feeling inside. While making my work for my thesis show, I began to see how empowering it was to make art about the diseases I suffered from an d how relieving it was to release how I felt inside. I felt more more. I nstead, I was relieved I finally could be myself through my art. My art ended up


21 educating me more than e ducating those around me. It taught me about myself and allowed me to express myself in a new and powerful way. Art Therapy/Expressive Arts in Schools Texts in the realm of art therapy specifically talk about how art therapy and expressive arts have been successfully or unsuccessfully integrated into a school curriculum. The texts give different accounts of students using the expressive arts in school to help them perform better in the studies and also improve their self esteem and attitude, such as in th e article, Using Play and Art Therapy to Help Culturally Diverse Students Overcome Barriers to School Success (Cochran, 1996). In this article, Cochran observes that art can be one of the ways culturally diverse students can overcome cultural barriers and also help improve their performance in academics. Similar outcomes were also asserted in other studies as mentioned in the articles, Keeping students in school: An art therapy program to benefit ninth grade students (McCulloch Vislisel, Neece, & Rosal, 199 7), and Reaching the tough adolescent through expressive arts therapy groups (Moon, 2006). The texts i n this category revealed how art can be used as a way for students to release feelings they were experiencing, feelings such as fear, anger, rage, confus ion, and stress. The article LA 94 Earthquake in the eyes of children: Art therapy with elementary school children who were victims of disaster ( Roje 1995 ), discussed children from the ages of 4 11 who were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder du e to the Los Angeles earthquake in 1994. These students were encouraged to express their feelings and


22 works began to display their fear and sadness that were a result of the tragic event. This study showed how expressive art activities helped students regain their inner sense of security while giving them an outlet to vent their stressful feelings. Expressive Arts with Children and Adolescents In another group of texts, authors specifically talked about how art therapy and the expressive arts can be used to benefit both children and adolescents. These texts give useful examples of expressive art activities that can be done with children and adolescents. They inform us ho w the minds of children and adolescents work differently than adults and how we should approach the expressive arts differently with them. In the online article, Expressive Art Projects Copeland (2011) gives multiple ideas for expressive arts projects tha t work for any age group, including adolescents and children. Copeland also offers ideas about designing art activities such as drawing with specific project is more for the teenage/adult age groups. The project consists of the student choosing 15 people who are important to him/her that he/she would take to a desert island. Then, the student makes an artwork to represent each of those 15 people (Copeland, 2011). The proje ct helps the student analyze why each person is close to him/her. This project like many others lends itself to self exploration and self empowerment. On the same website, there are additional ideas for expressive art activities, including those offered by Lovingood (2011) in an article called Creative and Expressive Arts Activities Lovingood describes activities such as mood painting, mask painting, expressive objects, and dot art. This group of texts was useful to my study in


23 helping me decide which expr essive art activities would be most appropriate for my students. Expressive Art Activities The final group of texts that I examined as part of my literature review for my study specifically talk about expressive art activities and offer ideas for their im 2008 dissertation. In her dissertation, she suggests ideas for art educators to impl ement more creativity and expression into their art classrooms (Rohloff, 2008). Hers, along with other texts, offer specific project and activity ideas that have been previously tested and proved to be successful, such as in the book, The Expressive Arts A ctivity Book: A Resource for Professionals (Darley, Darley, & Heath, 2007). In this book, the authors give a collection of expressive arts activities such as individual card making, painting to music, body mapping using collage, and book assembling (Darley Darley, & Heath, 2007). This book was useful in providing examples of expressive art activities that have been done before with varying ages (Darley, Darley, & Heath, 2007 ). Another text that was useful in helping me with ideas for my expressive arts act ivities was the book, Art Therapy Activities: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Therapists, and Parents (Stack, 2006). Stack (2006) wrote this book to help educators, therapists, and parents to encourage, stimulate, and facilitate creative expression to whom ever they may come in contact with. In this book, Stack (2006) provides sample lesson plans and activities that could be useful to anyone teaching children how to express their feelings and thoughts through art. I found this book to be helpful for my stu dy because it provided a guide on


24 how to become more organized when planning the expressive art activities that I would be implementing in my classroom for my study and in the future. Summary In conclusion, all of these texts suggest that the arts can he lp students reflect on their personal lives, express their feelings and concerns, and quite possibly improve their self esteem, behavior, and performance in school. The texts gave real life examples of how art has been used as a form of self expression to help children better understand and cope the stresses and conditions of with their daily lives. I used these studies as a conceptual guide in my own thinking about how I might conduct similar studies within my own classroom. Various professionals have util ized the expressive arts for many y ears to aid in the overall well being and spirit of humankind. The expressive arts enable people to be more creative and in turn have the potential to boost self esteem, personal expressiveness, and self empowerment. The expressive arts could be extremely useful to our youth due to the unstable lives they lead today, and as they experience the various life changes of growing up. In this regard, the expressive arts could help students with stress, coping skills, self esteem and expressing their feelings properly. I feel a need for more art educators to include expressive arts into their current art curricula in order to benefit the overall well being of their students. However, there is a lack of readily available resource s for practicing art teachers to obtain well researched methods and ideas regarding how they might create and integrate the expressive arts into their existing traditional curricula. In response to this problem, I have conducted


25 this study and have create d a web site for teachers to reference for project ideas, examples. I also have created a blog for networking with other fellow art educators.


26 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY In this chapter, I will discuss the steps I took to create my Web based resource an d the methodology of my study. After designing and while implementing each expressive art activity with my students, I documented their artwork, had informal conversations with them in the classroom, and surveyed them for their opinions. Following each act ivity, I gathered and analyzed the data I collected from my surveys to group common answers together. After grouping the answers together, I calculated the percentages of their responses. This gave me a general sense of what they wrote in their journals, a nd let me know more about what they were thinking as these art projects unfolded. I then created a Web based resource for art teachers to view my projects, findings, and images from the study. Curriculum Research For the first step of my research, I res earched studies or activities that have been conducted in the area of the expressive arts. I found a few studies and websites to inform my own expressive arts curriculum. After looking through these references, I created four expressive arts projects to in tegrate into my New Generation Florida Sunshine State Standards based (SSS) art curriculum. These projects were: Self Expressive Gestures, Cultural Project, Mood Painting to Music Project, and A Postcard to Never Send. Due to time constraints, I was only able to conduct an in depth study of two of the four projects. This is an ongoing curriculum and projects three and four are still unfolding as I prepare this research report.


27 The first project I conducted was the Mood Painting to Music Pr oject, in which I played different four different types of music: Pop, Dubstep, Rock, and, Acoustic. This project asked students to make art without pre planning or any specific purpose, similar to free association writing. The project also taught students a way to make art that is not necessarily representational. This type of art making can be covered under the Florida SSS for art curricula. For each Mood Painting project, I played one for each of the four genres of music and asked the students to make their marks or p aint what they are feeling. Afterward, students were instructed to walk around and compare how the paintings of others compared to their own when listening to the same song. Students became more aware of the different ways people perceived and expressed ea ch genre of music and how it affected each person differently (See Figures 3 and 4). Figure 3: Age 14, Female, Tempera and Pastel, Mood Painting to Music Project Song 1


28 Figure 4: Age 16, Male, Tempera and Pastel, Mood Painting to Music, Song 4 The second project, I presented was The Postcard to Never Send In this project, students were instructed to make a postcard to send to someone that they have no contact with any longer or have an issue with. Students were told that they would not have to send this post card, but should be kept as a sort of diary piece. Students were encouraged to use images along with words for their postcard to describe how they felt toward the person or to tell them about something they have never told them. This postcard wa s intended to teach the students how art can be used as a communicator and can be used to express emotions that they may never have been able to verbalize before (see Figures 5 and 6).


29 Figure 5: Age 14, Colored Pencil, Postcard to Never Send Figure 6: Age 17, Marker, Postcard to Never Send


30 The next project, The Cultural Project was intended to teach students to explore their personal identity through investigating the different types of cultures they participate in such as: Teenage Culture, Pop Cul ture, and their Ethnic Culture. The project taught students self exploration and to become more in touch of whom they are and what makes them unique. The project required students to create a self portrait that portrayed their face, along with objects, sym bols, and words that represented who they are and what cultures they are part of. With this, students also create a one page paper explaining their cultures and their artwork. This project helped my students explore and share who they are and how they ca n express themselves through the use of symbols. To help students, I created my own portrait (See Figure 7). In my piece, I used certain images and symbols to portray my Irish, Spanish, and American cultures. Through out my piece, I used sayings from the n ative Spanish and Celtic languages to display the languages of my cultures. I also addition, I used symbols to display major traditions, foods, and historical events of the cultures I am part of. This project helps me get students to take a deeper look into the influences that affect their sense of self. After the completion of this project, many students made comments indication that they felt self empowered and proud of whom they are.


31 The last project, Self Expressive Gestures was intended to help the students explore the expressiveness of their mark making Students were instructed to use their body movement, materials, and colors to make their artwork reflect their self expression. Along with this project, students learned the importance of gestures and their purpose when trying to capture the movement of the human subject. In order to during this activity. I also encouraged students to stand, use a wide range of materials, and to make small and large marks when producing their artwork. I evaluated the


32 artwo rk not on how precise the human figure is, but based on how the marks that students made evoked a sense of the body or emotion of the model. To begin this project, the students should be presented with a various amount of mark making materials such as paint, charcoal, pastel, marker, ink, chocolate syrup, coffee, etc., to make their marks with for the gestures. Second, the students were then encouraged to try different materials they may not used to and to not be afraid to change how they apply the materials (fingers, brush, tissue, directly from the bottle). I also encouraged the students to choose the material they felt would best meet their aims for this project. I let students know that I used pencil and watercolor for my project, because I felt these two materials appropriately met my aims. Third, the students were instructed to draw a gesture of a model (a class member), and with their materials express the emotion the model is conveying or how they feel personally when looking at the model. St udents were told that the aim of this project is less about drawing a realistic human figure, but rather to capture emotions through the movement of their body and use of materials. Students were encouraged at this time to stand and use their body while ma king the gestures. Each gesture lasted no longer than 30 seconds. After the completion of the gestures, students then took a look at others gestures to compare their mark making to others in the class. Surveys and Journals The second step of my research was the surveys and journals. After each project, I handed students an anonymous survey to fill out answers to the following questions:


33 o How do you feel before, during, and after making this piece? o What was the hardest part of this project and why? o Did t his project make you feel better or worse about yourself? o If one thing could be improved on this project, what would it be and why? o What emotions did you feel while making this piece? (one word answers only) What do you feel you accomplished from making this piece? o Overall, how did you like this project on a scale of 1 After students answered their surveys, I asked them to write in their sketchbook/ journal any thoughts they had about that spe cific project. Next, I analyzed the comments and answers from both their surveys and journals and grouped them into similar responses. After grouping them together, I calculated the percentage of students that answered similarly to each question. I then u sed these percentages to draw conclusions about which projects were most favored and most successful with my group of students. Website The third part of my capstone project was the creation of my website for teachers, titled Expressi ve Arts in School Art Curricula I built this site in order to showcase my approach to expressive arts making, and to educate and help other teachers who are interested in implementing the expressive arts into their curriculum. I posted my research a nd results from my study to the website to help validate this approach and to provide a guide for teachers get ideas about how they could possibly


34 implement the expressive arts into their existing curriculum. On the website, I included my purpose, a short biography about myself, an art gallery of expressive arts projects, lesson ideas, my results from my capstone research project, images from my reflective teaching journal, resources about expressive arts, and even a blog where teachers can share ideas and concerns. Figure 8: Sc reen shot of Home page Figure 9: Screen shot of Gallery


35 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Over the course of four weeks, I conducted an in depth study of two of the four expressive art activit ies that I had incorporated into in my 2 D Comprehensive I classroom, first period at Riverview High School in Riverview, Florida. After each activity I gave students a survey, asked them to journal their thoughts in their artist sketchbook journals, and p hotographed their work. Mood Painting to Music 2, 2012. For this activity, I came in early before class to set up all the supplies and materials needed, so when the students arrived, they would be ready to start. Once the students arrived, I explained to them that they would be making art to music and that they could use which ever materials they felt would best express their feelings from the song. Next, I told the students t hat the art they are making should take no pre thought, but should be reactionary and compulsive by responding to what they were hearing in the music. Many students were confused on how to make this type of art because they were used making art that follow ed more prescribed lesson requirements, or that had to look realistic or resemble an actual object. I then instructed the students to stand up for this activity and grab the paper at the center of their desks. The first song I played was react to this type of music at 7:45 in the morning. After I encouraged them to not be afraid to go crazy, students began to pick up their materials and go for it! Some students still hesitated saying it was too early to be doing the activity or to be listening to rock. I


36 encouraged them telling them it would wake them up. Gradually all of the student s began making marks, although some were more energetic than others. I kept reinforcing the idea to switch up materials and to not think so much about what they loosen up, and continued to become more expressive and making more marks, using their body as they made them. Some students began to use their fingers and hands to paint instead of their brushes, and some of them flung paint to create marks. After I played the song for 2 minutes, I instructed the students to set their materials down and to grab a new sheet of paper for the next song. The next song I mark making once again. By this time, m any of their demeanors had changed to be more relaxed and they were quicker to make their marks. They seemed to stop thinking about what things looked like, and just let their feelings and unconscious mind take over. Whereas initially I observed that many students were afraid to let go and be free because they were scared of what other people would think; by now, after students saw was clear that the students stopped c aring so much about what others thought and just finally let go. I believe that this activity liberated some of them in the process. As I involved, expressive, energetic, and free as they made each new piece. After the 4 songs were played for 2 minutes each, I instructed the students to place their pieces together by song in different part of the roo m. I then told them to


37 compare theirs to others in the class and to look at how each student expressed the itially thought. After, I told the students to take a seat and I was going to give them a survey on the activity they had just participated in. During the activity, they thought that this project was a was also part of my study, I feel this helped create less bias with my findings because the students did not know they were doing this for my study. (It is important to keep in mind that all of these students and their parents had already agreed to be stu dy participants in my expressive arts study.) I gave the students a general survey that asked for their age, gender, and grade level, and that asked them to respond to the following questions: 1. How did you feel before making this artwork? 2. How did you fee l during the making of this artwork? 3. How do you feel after making this artwork? 4. Did this project make you feel better or worse about yourself or neither? 5. If one thing could be improved about this activity/ project, what would it be and why? 6. What emotio ns did you feel while making this piece? (one word answers only) What do you feel you accomplished by making this artwork? 7. After gathering the surveys, I tha nked the students for their participation and many came up to me after giving me their extra comments and questions. Some I


38 ts seemed eager to do it again and seemed to like the activity. From the surveys I gave out, I found many interesting comments, thoughts, and suggestions that I feel were very informative for both my study and if I plan to do this art activity again in the future. Here are some of my findings from the surveys. From the survey, I found I had only 18 participants due to absences. Of the 18, 5 were 14 years old, 6 were 15 years old, 2 were 16 years old, 4 were 17 years old, and 1 was 19 years old. Of the 18 st udents, 13 were female and 5 were male. The grade th grade, 6 in 10 th grade, 3 in 11 th grade, and 2 in 12 th grade. answers. Here are my findings: Question 1: How did you feel before making this artwork? Anxious (2) Bored (3) Tired (5) Excited (4) Confused (4) Question 2: How did you feel during the making of this artwork? Energetic (5) Free (3) Fun (5) Mellow (1) Creative (2)


39 Some in teresting responses were: Question 3: How do you feel after making this artwork? Awake (4) Free (2) Proud (1) Happy (3) Less Stressed (2) Accompli shed (1) Confident (1) Refreshed (1) Awesome (1) Relaxed (1) Frustrated (1) Question 4: Did this project make you feel better or worse about yourself or neither? Better (9) Worse (0) Neither (9) Question 5: If one thing could be improved about this act ivity/ project, what would it be and why? Improve music variety (2) Improve nothing (2) Play songs longer (4) More colors/more materials (6) More of mood painting in class (2) More space (1)


40 Question 6: What emotions did you feel while making thi s piece? (one word answers only) What do you feel you accomplished by making this artwork? (This question had multiple responses per student) Angry (6) Sad (2) Happy (10) Relaxed (2) Confident (1) Nothing (3) Crazy (1) Accomplished (1) Relieved (1) Creati ve (1) Relieved anxiety (1) Random (1) Excited (4) Energized (1) Expressed feelings (1) Insane (1) Some interesting responses were: 6 Rating (2) 7 Rating (2) 8 Rating (2) 9 Rating (2) 10 Rating (10) From these findings I came to the following conclusions about this activity. One, from observing my students actions and emotions, I see that my study reiterates the fact that our students are everywhere on the emotional map. Everyday as educators we deal


41 rollercoaster of emotions their heads. This project just shows from the various responses given in the survey that our students lead complex and difficult lives. Knowing this information helps both me and other ed ucators know their students better and it reinforces the need for us to formulate a curriculum that helps students deal with their emotions. An expressive arts curriculum may not alleviate all of these emotions for these students, but it can help them expr ess their feelings and needs in a healthy way. The results from this activity made me see that this type of expressive art activity was successful with my students through their level of engagement with the activity, their appreciation of both the process actions and comments make me realize that they would like to see more expressive art activities in my curriculum. next time we perform this activity. First, I need to allow for more time per song for students to express themselves. Second, I need to have a wider variety of music, perhaps instead of just four songs, have six to eight songs from different genres of mus ic to give students more variety. Third, I need to provide a wider variety of expressive art materials, and more colors, so students can have more options for materials they choose to express their emotions. (See Figures 10, 11, 12, and 13.)


42 Figure 10: Age 19, Female, Marker and Tempera, Mood Painting to Music Song 1 Figure 11: Age 17, Female, Pastel and Tempera, Mood Painting to Music Song 2


43 Figure 12: Age 14, Female, Tempera and Pastel, Mood Painting to Music Song 3 Figure 13: Age 14, Fe male, Tempera, Mood Painting to Music Song 4


44 A Postcard to Never Send The second activity, A Postcard to Never Send was conducted on March 5, 2012. With this activity, I prepared by cutting card stock into 3.5 X 5.5 inch rectangles. On the rectangles, I drew a line down one side through the middle and added the word, to the students and asked them to think of a person that they may not communicate with due to the i nability to express their feelings toward that person. The person could be then told students that the postcard I handed them was to be addressed towards that person, yet they are never going to send it. I told them to tell them through their art how they feel for them, either good or bad. I also instructed students that if they woul d like to, they could write a message to the person on the back of the postcard. The students overall seemed to have an easy time deciding who they were going to address their postcard to. A few struggled, however, so I asked them more questions to help th em try to find someone they may not have got along with, or that they forgot about. After ever not get along with your parents, coach, or a teacher? Have you ever had a Usually, after I asked them these questions, they could think of one person they wanted to tell something to. After giving them the instructions, I gave them two days to decorate their card and return it to me. Many of the students failed to tur n in their cards to me because they lost it or forgot to turn it in. I encouraged students to turn the cards in if they had them,


45 but did not press the issue. Thus, only 13 students ended up participating in this project. Yet, the 13 postcards returned wer e not only meaningful, but also beautiful. Many of the postcards had a theme of broken hearts or were about love and heartache. Other postcards were about estranged friendships, someone dying who was close to them, or someone they have not been able to tel l something that has bothered them for a while. Some of the cards stuck out more than others either by their artwork or message. First, there was a male student who decorated his card with his face and hearts in his eyes (Figure 13). Then on the back of th 14). Little did I know his crush is a girl he sits across from in my classroom. I never would have guessed he had a crush on this girl. Figure 14: Age 14, Male, Colored Pencil and Ink, A Postcard to N ever Send (Front)


46 Figure 15: Age 14, Male, Colored Pencil and Ink, A Postcard to Never Send (Back) The next postcard that struck me was a postcard by a 17 year old female in my class (Figure 15). The postcard depicts a landscape with a broken heart in a tree and on the ground. The card also depicts balloons going into the sky with two crosses on the ground below. The picture is confusing and her message confuses me more. The message is filled with a kind of sadness and you can tell the postcard is addre ssed to someone she can no longer talk to either by death or by distance. You can infer from the message on the back and her image, that this may have been the place she last talked to this person. (Figure 16).


47 Figure 16: Age 17, Female, Marker, A Post card to Never Send (front) Figure 17: Age 17, Female, Marker, A Postcard to Never Send (back)


48 The results from the study also suggested even more interesting results, along with other postcards that were meaningful and touching to me. As with the firs t project, I gave students the same survey to fill out with the same questions. In this study, because of absences and students failing to give me their postcard, I only had 13 students return their postcards to me. I feel that some said they forgot their postcard, but really this project may have been too difficult for them to face emotionally or they were scared to share what they made with me. The survey results were as follows: Question 1: How did you feel before making this artwork? Confused (2) Nor mal (3) Nervous (1) Good (2) Confident (1) Curious (1) Excited (1) Undecided (1) Angry (1) Question 2: How did you feel during the making of this artwork? Happy (3) Sad (1) Thoughtful (1) Lame (1) Creative (1) Angry (2) Neutral (1) Some interesting resp onses were:


49 Question 3: How do you feel after making this artwork? Nervous (1) Good (1) Disappointed (1) Relieved (1) Same (2) Calmer (1) Neutral (1) Some interesting responses were: artwork, I still felt sad, but also glad that my feelings Question 4: Did this project make you feel better or worse about yourse lf or neither? Better (5) Worse (0) Neither (6) Some interesting responses were: Question 5: If one thing could be improved about this activity/ project, what would it be and why? Broader theme (1) Nothing (6) Make more than one (1) More time (1)


50 Some interesting responses were: Question 6: What emotions did you feel while making th is piece? (one word answers only) What do you feel you accomplished by making this artwork? (This question had multiple responses per student) Happy (2) Confused (2) Conflicting Feelings (2) Sad (2) Ok (1) Lazy (1) Accomplished nothing (1) Regret (1) Rel ieved my emotions (1) Thankful (1) Lost (1) Love (1) Embarrassed (1) Frustrated (2) Hurt (1) Neutral (2) Angry (1) Some interesting comments were: in


51 4 Rating (1) 5 Rating (1) 6 Rating (2) 7 Rating (2) 8 Rating (2) 9 Rating (2) 10 Rating (3) Using the results of this activity and watching the students perform the activity, I made the following observations about this project. First, I see that many students have a range of emotions coming into the activity just like the last activity they performed. Second, I see that students either felt upset or happy when they were done making the postcard. These emotions I could directly correlate to the postcard they ma de. The third observation I made is that many students realized the benefits of this project without myself telling them. They realized this activity helped them express their emotions more effectively and helped them not keep them bottled up inside. Wit h these observations, I conclude that overall the students benefited from and enjoyed this project. Some may have rated the activity with a low score because they were sad from the making of the card. Yet, in the long run, I believe that they will look bac k at the activity and see that it actually benefited them emotionally. Bad memories them, the worse they can get. I hope that both of these projects showed students a h ealthy, artistic way to express their emotions. I plan to continue my studies in the future with the expressive arts and hope to implement these and future projects into my current SSS based art curriculum.


52 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, & RECOMMENDA TIONS Conclusions After conducting this study, I have come to many conclusions about the expressive arts and their part in a school arts curriculum. I believe this study suggests expression and persona l growth. Based on my findings, I also believe that students of any background or age benefit from expressive arts activities in their lives. Every child has their own unique life experience and issues they bring with them to school, including problems at home, school, or with a relationship they are in. Scholars and educators have found the expressive arts to only be beneficial for people who have been through a traumatic event, but expressive arts are also beneficial for helping people with everyday issue s they face in their daily lives. With these goals in mind, I maintain here that it is our job as art educators to introduce our students to the expressive arts, and how expressive arts can be used as a tool to improve student quality of life. Through exp ressive arts projects, we can help our students reflect on and possibly even share their feelings instead of bottling them up. We as teachers can also benefit from the implementation and use of the expressive arts I e xperienced this personally by recogni zing my outlook on the expressive and abstract arts had changed after the completion of my study Before, I senseless art that took no talent or had no purpose. Afte r seeing the power of the expressive arts and the effect it had on my students, I realized that the expressive and


53 abstract arts had a greater purpose. representational, but more about the experience while making them. empowerment gained through the process of making, which makes them more important than I ever imagined. From these revelations I also saw a change in how I taught my students. No longer was I as rigid with my students, expecting their art to be realistic and perfect I became more accepting more open to them taking different paths on their projects instead of always following the rules. I let them be freer, and in turn freed myself as well. t the only time I have felt the power of the expressive arts. At the age of 23, I became anorexic and bulimic, and was considered a severe case, so severe that I lost 25 pounds in 3 months to weigh 81 pounds before I sought treatment. After treatment, I wa s scared, confused, and had many emotions running through my head that I had once numbed by being anorexic and bulimic. I realized I now had to deal with become my voic e and tool for dealing with my emotions. I then realized the healing power that art brought me, helping me cope with my diseases. Expressive art making helped me understand and accept my feelings, and to express them instead of repressing them. Expressive art making also helped me to share my story with others, and I believe that in this sharing I also helped others who may be suffering from the same or other illnesses. As a result of my healing, facilitated in part through expressive art making, I decided to do my senior thesis art project/show for my Bachelors degree reactions and talking to them actually helped me heal even more. I finally was able to


54 share my feelings wit h the world and let them understand the torment and pain I had the emotions all the anorexics and bulimics were experiencing through out the world. Figure 18: Je nnifer Costello Mackey, Riot at the Factory Art Show, 2008 This was such a powerful experience for me that I wanted to share the benefits of the expressive arts with others who may have problems such as mine, or just everyday issues like depression and str ess. So in August of 2008, I became a teacher. Ever since, I have been striving to share with my students the power of the arts and how the expressive arts can benefit them, as it did me. I have shared my story every year with my students, and boys and gir inspired by my work and have shared with me stories of their own. I feel blessed to have them trust me with their stories and deep dark secrets. I also feel blessed that I was able to give them the gift of art for them to express their own feelings. Through these acts of self revelation and expressive art making, I may have prevented some of my


55 students from acting out in other ways in the future. I can only hope that their knowing that there are oth failure that drinking, drugs, smoking, crime, and suicide. This research project, interwoven with my own story, encapsulates how my passion for the expressive arts developed. With this study, I continue to pursue my passion to teach and touch others lives through the power of the expressive arts. Implications With this study and the results from the two expressive arts activities that I examin e more closely in this capstone project it is evident that the students benefited from these activities. Students were able to improve in the expression of their emotions, their self esteem was enhanced in positive ways, and they began to see art making as a form of self empowerment. My examin suggests that that the activities they performed, they actually enjoyed. Many students came to me after the projects concluded; asking when could do it again. The students felt like they were finally able to be free to express their emotions and not have anyone judge them for it. So it is clear that the expressive art activities helped these students release their emotions, improve their attitude, and be more attentive and productive in the classroom. I bel ieve that these benefits can also flow over into other classes and into their lives outside of school. My hope with this study is that other art teachers see the benefits of expressive arts activities, and that they work toward including expressive arts in their own curricula.


56 Recommendations For any teacher looking to implement the expressive arts into their curriculum, I offer the following advice. One, start small and then go big; meaning, I would pick a couple expressive arts activities to implement into the curriculum and then grow from there. Too many activities in one semester/year may overwhelm the students or you. Try one or two and see how it goes. If the kids react well, then add in more gradually. In addition, I would try to integra te the expressive art activities into your already existing curriculum. This way, you are covering the standards and requirements of your school and state, and at the same time, also allowing your students to express themselves. Next, I would ask for and t regarding the kinds of expressive art activities they would most appreciate. Why do an input and make changes to your curriculum plans where you see fit. Last, I suggest you have fun too. I suggest that not only should you teach the expressive arts, but that you should practice them yourself too. You will never know the true power of the expressive arts until you try them yourself. I think you will be with the use of the expressive arts in our lives, it may make our jobs feel a little less stressful and emotionally exhausting. In other words, we can benefit from the expressive arts just as much as our students can, so try it!


57 REFERENCES Clark, G., Day, M., Greer, D. (1987). Discipline based art education: Becoming students of art. Journal of Aesthetic Education 21 (2), 129 93. Cochran, J. (1996). Using play and art therapy to help culturally diverse students overcome barriers to school success School Counselor 43 (4), 287 98. Retrieved from: Copeland, C. (2011, February 2). Expressive art projects. Retrieved from: art projects.html Darley, M., Darley, S.,& Heath, W. (2007). The expressive arts activity book: A resource for professionals London: Jessica Kingsl ey Publishers. Eisner, E. (2001). Should we create new aims for art education? Art Education, 54 (5) 6 10. Eisner, E. (2004), The arts and the creation of mind. London: Yale University Press. Lovingood P. (2011, April 18). Creative and expressive a rts activities. Retrieved from: expressive art activities.html Malchiodi, C. (2005). Expressive therapies. New York, NY: Guilford Publications. McCulloch Vislisel, S., Neece, S., & Rosal, M. (1997). Keeping studen ts in school: An art therapy program to benefit ninth grade students. Art Therapy: Journal of American Art Therapy Association 14 (1), 30 36. Moon, P. (2006). Reaching the tough adolescent through expressive arts therapy groups. Retrieved from: www.coun


58 Rohloff, R.P. (2008). Life excavations through the imaginarium: An emancipatory model of arts based inquiry. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from UMI Microform. (3337898) Roje, J. (1995). LA 94 Earthquake in the eyes of c hildren: Art therapy with elementary school children who were victims of disaster. Art Therapy 12 (4), 237 243. Retrieved from: 02311 003 Stack, P.J. (2006). Art therapy ac tivities: A practical guide for teachers, therapists, and parents. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publishers.


59 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH South Florida i n 2002. After 6 years, she completed her B.F.A in studio art with a minor in art history, May of 2008. Soon after, she became a high school art teacher in the Fall of 2008. After teaching for 2 years, she decided to further her education and chose the Univ ersity of Florida for her Masters degree. Jennifer will graduate May of 2012 and hopes to become a professor at a local college or university one day. Currently, Jennifer teaches high school art at Riverview High School in Riverview, Florida. Her current research involves the integration of the expressive arts in a traditional arts classroom.