Narrator: Katie seems both self-assured yet unsure. Karla summarized her as a follower. Narrator

Narrator

: Katie seems both self-assured yet unsure. Karla summarized her as a follower.

Narrator

: The students’ psychological content selections evoke nostalgia for childhood and adult concerns, since their choices are both progressive and regressive (Nathanson, 1991). The class was playful, almost silly at times. On the other hand, they were rebelling and taking risks. Life today is full of contradictions and demands; parents are on the run; no one is home; and youth need to invent their own community (Hersch, 1999). Karla reflected later that, “They don’t want to be unique; it’s uncomfortable. They also want to be free but choose the safe. They are so fixated on what others think of them.”

Stokrocki (1997a) explained the students were a blend of assurance and unsure-ness. This project was a way for them to explore their coming of age feelings and rites of passage; their need to be challenged, and their need for direction; their contradicting desire for support, and autonomy. They are curious of the unknown dimensions of this art project, and they are afraid. They huddle together, progressing down the yellow brick road in trepidation and chanting, “Lions, tigers, and bears, Oh, My!”
Scene VI. “We Love/Hate Drawing”!

Narrator

: When asked what they learned, students revealed:

Phil

: I solved my problem by shortening the face and moving the eyebrows just above the eyes. I know that

morphing

is changing animals into my characteristics.

Bob:

To make it [the portrait] more interesting, how you want to be. You can choose the animal you want and to capture your inner self -- what we are like—but I’m sure of what I am.”

Katie

: We learned about shading and watercolor. Drawing is hard work.

Dori

: I like more imaginary things, like patterns and color.

Karla

: They learned about

proportions and distortions.

Narrator

: Students indicated their understanding of the lesson and appreciated it as the one that they learned from the most. Students first mentioned that they learned to draw

accurately. Phil struggled and complained about his eye drawing with overlapping lids, and Bob stated that he made his mouth too big and overlapped a smaller mouth on top. Managing proportions of facial features was a paramount problem for the students who complained a great deal about their renderings. A cross-site analysis of preadolescents in eight areas in the Cleveland, Ohio region also revealed that they love/hate drawing in the sense that they desired a realistic portrayal but had difficulty achieving it (Stokrocki, 1990). This love/hate relationship with drawing is spurred by preadolescents’ growing need for literalism and popular artistic conventions (Wilson, 1997). In summary, the students involved in this study preferred to work with the playful aspects of drawing and painting, but seemed to appreciate what they learned.
Scene VII: “We’re a Confused Bunch of Kids!”

Narrator

: So what personality traits do eighth graders exhibit?

At first, student work seemed to reveal stereotypical traits: cute, popular, and brave. Students appeared reluctant to think about their inner selves. In interviews conducted two years later, students revealed their social nature.

Bob:

No one had ever asked such questions.

Dori:

The questions were confusing

Dizzy

: I don’t remember.

Phil:

I didn’t know what to do next, and didn’t know what to say then.

Karla

: They all want be adorable and popular so they choose related images.

Bob:

We were very immature and didn’t take art seriously.

Bunny:

Art is an easy subject.

Katie

: We were a confused bunch of kids!

Narrator:

Students revealed that during adolescent they were at the stages of identity development known as diffusion— a confusion about his/her own identity; and moratorium---experimenting with different alternatives (Erickson, 1968).

The majority of selected animals were some form of cat, such as a lion or tiger, or bears. Personality traits varied but males seemed to show bravery and independence. However, the male students did express some individuality in their work. Bob felt that he failed to represent his likeness, but he was the only boy to use an imaginative pattern, which he drew in his dragon’s tail. Phil changed his mask idea by eliminating the ears that didn’t fit. Even though Dizzy left the class, his drawing showed the most expressive markings. These boys were more risk-takers. Females mostly reacted to aesthetic concerns of their own physical appearance, wanting to be pretty, in association with their chosen animal. The students seemed to associate girls with cats in personality, cute and pretty, and boys with bears and bravery. Students therefore were inclined to choose animals and details that were based on gendered social acceptance.

Chorus:

Several art education researchers have uncovered gender differences in art making. For example, Hafeli (2002) described the work of a female student who constructed a wearable sculpture with wings to transform herself into something beautiful and special and to attract attention. Male students, in contrast, responded to myths of lions (cats), dragons, and bears possibly to indicate the ideal of bravery. Another researcher, Tuman (1999), compared the drawings of male and female students, ages 7-12, and found that girls tended to choose gendered feminine content such as social and caring experiences and concern for physical appearance, nature, and animals; whereas boys were inclined to select images of power and humor.
Scene VIII: “Who Are We?”

Narrator:

Now, students are asked to think about their previous answers in earlier interviews in a new way. Students are asked how their answers reveal their culture. Are the students aware of their cultures? You decide.

Karla

: Dear students, come with me on a vision quest (Martin, 1986). Art can help you in your search for identity. Identity can be more than just personality traits. What has your choice of animals revealed about your culture?

Phil:

I am as watchful as an owl, but quick to hide like a rabbit when I am threatened.

Bob:

I’m still not good at art; I have fun; but I learned how to draw.

Dizzy:

My cat is mad and I slashed my drawing because I don’t care.

Bunny:

My bunny/cat is demure and quiet; otherwise I really haven’t much to say.

Katie

: I’m so radiant [primping herself] like this white polar bear so that others will be attracted to my sheen.

Dori

: We’re not so apathetic anymore; I’m beyond cute now and more caring.

Karla

: Well, you finally applied yourselves and managed to express your hidden identities and weaknesses. On the other hand, you seem so typically American -- obsessed with appearances. Are you in constant search for an illusion?

Bob:

Just as long as we don’t have to work too hard.

Phil:

I knew there was a catch. Oh My!
Scene IX: The Denouement

Narrator:

I am sure that you have heard of the Wizard of Oz, so now I would like to present his Southwest replacement—The LIZARD of ARS, who specializes in analyzing the socio-cultural impact of events.

The Lizard:

This vignette reveals a variety of viewpoints about this particular art class experience. The students each had their own unique viewpoints, yet they shared several similar experiences that could have influenced their art production. The students had been grouped together throughout their education. The teacher’s initial drawing of a tiger may have influenced students, as could have the students’ previous knowledge of creatures from popular culture myths, such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Baum, 1986). The students had also all experienced mainstream gender scripting. In addition to observing adolescent identity formation explored and expressed through art education, an additional quest that emerged during this study was “a search for social understanding, a process of translating shared meaning of one’s own and a foreign culture (Wax, 1971, p. 13).”. I leave you with an additional quote to ponder. “The conception of a work of art as an object of individual pleasure is inadequate . . . because of its intense social meaning and its ability to address historically situated subjects (Stam, 1989, p. 36). “

Chorus:

At a deeper level, this play reveals the sociological impact of American culture on preadolescents. Culture is not stagnant and monolithic, but is ever changing and is influenced by a wide variety of internal and external influences. This definition includes popular and global cultures. Preadolescents often explore possible identities through hero worship, female appearance-adoration, and tribal formations (Stokrocki, 1997a). The search for identity was the most important part of the lesson that students could remember in the long run. Since American culture lacks public rituals that affirm puberty or maturation rites, popular culture provides some alternatives for students to emulate. This lesson, as in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Baum, 1986), provided an occasion for satire to deflate “the smugness and pomposity of contemporary America, but also to reaffirm the youthful energy and homespun authenticity of an earlier America (Nathanson, 1991, p. 257).” This state of affairs begs the question, is America still undergoing adolescent growing pains?
Epilogue
In this class, most students seem to exhibit a temporary expressive culture of shared meanings. Students searching for identity are often confronted with the question of which cultural identity and values to explore and transmit. The findings of these researchers reflect similar findings of related investigations, based in gender studies that focus on the different themes and subject matter that distinguish art works made by girls from those made by boys (Duncum, 1997). By helping students to discover the hidden meanings of their artistic intentions, art educators might help them to understand the gendered stereotypes that affect their drawings. Such forays provide “transcendence or temporary relief from the youth’s preoccupation with their own real life bodies “and perversions of violence and sex (jagodzinski, 2004, p. 273).
The search for identity is a global problem exacerbated by immigration, wars, and economic problems. This study reveals a culture of one specific art class which students’ defined as “apathetic”, and also where peers were of great influence. Perhaps this micro-culture of apathy is reflective of apathy in larger mainstream American culture. An empathetic performance can intensify this message. “Performances do not ‘proceed in ideological innocence and axiological purity’ (Conquergood, 1985, p. 2).” The ethics of performance cultural studies demands that performers and writers take responsibility for how they interpret another person’s life experiences.
After the performance, I asked performers and audience members to discuss what they learned about adolescent cultural identity, translating research into a performance, as a teaching tool. About the mainstream American macro-culture in which the micro-culture of this one particular art class was embedded? Graduate students enjoyed the experience and offered only a few suggestions. They agreed about characteristics on adolescent identity, but one student added the quality of confusion. In regards to teaching, another student wanted to try the script with his high school students; and a third student suggested that their university senior field experience be written as a play or story which would be more inviting format to read, to name a few of their responses.
Challenges and Future Possibilities
Remaining authentic to the ethnographic script is one challenge. The teacher, Karla, felt that I portrayed her students’ behavior and personality accurately. She confessed, “You got to know my students better than I did.” Another problem was the changes suggested by graduate students. One graduate student interpreted the meaning of the title of scene III, “I Can’t Draw” not in the sense of the student’s original statement, that she couldn’t draw at all, but as that the students couldn’t draw the nose in proportion. In exploring the original intent of the student’s statement that she couldn’t draw, my university students realized adolescent art students who have never drawn before would be threatened by the realism part of the assignment.
I have found that the script alone does not carry a sense of genuineness, but the actors’ performances and the audience’s emotional reactions, especially the performances and reactions of veteran art educators, give authenticity to this arts-based performance. The play, similar to the concept of identity, is multi-faceted, shifting, and improvisational. Thus, seriousness and playfulness merge in “a productive and dynamic interaction” (Hicks, 2005).
Researching the response of different audiences (Denzin, 1997) offers future possibilities. When some members of a Chicano community read the play, they insisted on bringing the idea of the shaman to life with the 1987 charcoal and pastel drawing, El Mestizo by Cesar Martinez, whose drawings inspired Mittler and Ragans (1992/1999) to write the lesson “Making a Mixed Media Self-Portrait,” which also inspired Karla. In his mask, the symbols of the jaguar represent his Mexican heritage and the bull, his Spanish traditions (Ouirate, 1997).
Such research requires much risk-taking and problem-solving as participants negotiate the evolving event that transforms itself each time the play is performed. This ethnographic study, summarized and disseminated in play form, acts as a form of advocacy for visual art in schools, educates art teachers in methods to guide youth in creating art with deep and meaningful content by discovering themselves, and acts as a catalyst for dialogue about how art should be taught.

References
Anderson, T., & Milbrandt, M. (2005). Art for life: Authentic instruction in art. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Barone, T., & Eisner, E. (1997). Arts-based educational research. In R. Jaegger (Ed.), Complementary methods for research in education (2nd ed., pp. 73-116). Washington DC: American Education Research Association.
Baum, F. (1986). The wonderful wizard of Oz. Berkeley: University of California Press (Original work published 1900).
Berberich, P. (1993). Bag of tricks for the millennium: Make-up/New colors for the Fall: Or the Avon lady, friend or foe? In K. Congdon & E. Zimmerman (Eds.), Women art educators III (pp.10-14). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.
Bruner, J. (1973). Beyond the information given: Studies in the psychology of knowing. New York: Norton.
Bettelheim, B. (1976). The uses of enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Knopf.
Conquergood, D. (1985). Performing as a moral act: Ethical dimensions of the ethnography of performance. Literature in Performance, 5, 1-13
Denzin, N. (1997). Interpretive ethnography: Ethnographic practices for the 21st century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Duncum, P. (1997). Subjects and themes in children’s unsolicited drawings and gender socialization. In A. Kindler (Ed.), Child development in art (pp. 107-114). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.
Ely, M., & Vinz, R., Anzul, M., Downing, M. (1997). On writing qualitative research: Living by words. Washington, DC: Falmer.
Emerson, R., Fretz, R., & Shaw, L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Erikson, E. (1968). Identity, youth, and crisis. New York: Norton.
Garoian, C., & Gaudelius, Y. (2004). Performing resistance, Studies on Art Education, 46(1). 48-60.
Garoian, C. (1999). Performing pedagogy: Toward an art of politics. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press
Groenig, M. (2001/2004). I’m not in Springfield anymore. The Simpson’s treehouse of horror: Fun-filled fright fest (pp. 89-103). New York: Perennial [Harper/Collins].
Hafeli, M. (2000). Negotiating “fit” in student work: Classroom conversations. Studies in Art Education, 41(2), 130-145.
Hafeli, M. (2002). Angels, wings, and Hester Prynne: The place of content in teaching adolescent artists. Studies in Art Education, 44 (1), 28-46.
Hafeli, M., Stokrocki, M., & Zimmerman, E. (2005). A cross-site analysis of strategies used by three middle school art teachers to foster student learning. Studies in Art Educatio 4
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