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Title:Beyond the artist-teacher fantasy: a Lacanian psychoanalytic investigation of K-12 art teachers' artist identities
Author(s):Horwat, Jeff
Director of Research:Hetrick, Laura
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hetrick, Laura
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lucero, Jorge; Higgins, Christopher; Pak, Yoon
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Many who identify as artists become public school art teachers because they see teaching as a noble profession and viable means to earn a living in an art related field. A career in art education also seems to offer the protected time they desire to continue their work as artists. Often those entering the field anticipate that they will be able to create artwork on weekends, during holiday breaks, or over summer vacation. However, once embarking on their careers, these teachers find themselves using free time on teaching related work such as lesson planning, grading, and advising extracurricular activities. Art teachers compromise their art-making time for teaching, ultimately neglecting their art practices. These art teachers long to reconnect with their abandoned art practices and identities as artists while continuing their rewarding work as art teachers, forcing them to straddle two conflicting worlds. Each has its own practices and values that represent two seemingly different identities. This doctoral study investigates the tension between these worlds to explore how might the concept of the artist-teacher be recognized as a fantasy that is necessary for inciting/sustaining pleasure in teaching. To better understand these tensions, this project employs case study methodology to document and describe the personal narratives of four K-12 tenured public school art teachers in the Midwest, who identify as artists. While engaging in similar pursuits of negotiating artist identities while teaching, each art teacher addresses these tensions through an array of different personal and professional experiences. Despite these differences, in semi-structured interviews, the art teachers describe the central tension as an internal conflict between opposing desires—the desire to be seen as artists and the desire to meet normative professional values embedded in teaching discourses. Thus, the conflict between art teachers’ artist and teacher identities could be understood as a conflict between how they want to be seen by others and how they think others are viewing them. Identifying this site of the conflict as an internal struggle of seemingly incongruent desires, I utilize the conceptualization of fantasy in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to examine how art teachers negotiate their desires to be artists with the desire of the professional teaching Other, or the normative professional values of teaching. Through content analysis of art teachers’ narratives, I infer that art teachers imagine being artists and art teachers through integration of their art practices and expertise into their teaching—employing artist-teacher fantasies to support and unify incongruent desires. Further analysis demonstrates that art teachers experience varying levels of dissatisfaction after merging their art practices into their teaching. This suggests that the artist-teacher fantasy is not sufficient to sustain both identities and their correlating desires. As a result, art teachers imagine separate, yet complementary artist fantasies to sustain their desires to be seen as artists independent of their teaching. I suggest that art teachers who identify as artists actively seek out communities outside their teaching professions—beyond the desire of the professional teaching Other—where they can create artwork and be seen by others / Others as the artists they desire to be.
Issue Date:2016-04-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Jeff Horwat
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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