Freedom, imagination and grace: the life stories of rural women art educators from the foothills of North Carolina

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sylvia Adams Wingler (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathleen Casey

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the narratives of four rural art educators of the Foothills of Western North Carolina. These women are the first art educators in this area in public education. They are often viewed as the invisible women in art who support community arts, much like the “invisible women in art history.” From the view of the dominant society or the “high art,” they live in an art void, behind-but-trying-to-keep-up, and fall behind in education. In this way they are considered “outsiders.” Through this dissertation, the reader is connected to the success and recognition attained by these women at a time when the obstacles facing women art educators made success extraordinary. I connect the reader to grace, freedom, and a hidden religion as it is experienced in the work of these women. As they create relationships, they are viewed as “insiders.” Through the individual stories these women demonstrated that love is involvement as they imagine and create spaces of possibility. My methodology is narrative research which is a form of qualitative research. Through interviews and tape recordings I connect “living history” to the past through the use of an open-ended question. I use the theories of Maxine Greene, Lucy Lippard, and John Berger which all stress the using of the arts to promote awareness, freedom, and social justice. Initially, I reveal how the rural women art educators prepared and studied for an occupation that was not yet in their communities, and then they had to invent the possibility of a job. Through my narratives, I state that their freedom came through multiple relationships (connectedness). Also, I illustrate just how creatively they used their imaginations to resist negative freedom and adopt positive freedom in uniting community. I conclude that arts provide a reality check for the fear of the “other” is present, such as, racial oppression, gender inequalities, economic class, and religion.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Freedom, Grace imagination, Insiders, Outsiders, Possibilities, Rural art eduation
Women Teachers $z North Carolina $x Interviews.
Art teachers $z North Carolina.
Art $x Study and teaching.
Art $x Social aspects.

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