Art Education Endowed Professor Schulte Creates Destination for Study of Childhood Art

Endowed Professor of Art Education Christopher Schulte
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Endowed Professor of Art Education Christopher Schulte

Endowed professor Christopher Schulte is establishing the School of Art in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences as a destination for the study of childhood art.

Schulte joined the School of Art in fall 2019. Since his arrival, he has founded the Center for the Study of Childhood Art, been a contributor to the Master of Arts and doctoral programs and, most recently, appointed assistant director of the School of Art. The Center for the Study of Childhood Art is currently under review and contingent on approval by the Board of Trustees and Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

"Christopher Schulte is an exceptional colleague and rarity in the field of art education. He is one of the top international scholars focusing on children's art, specifically children's drawing practices," said Angela LaPorte, art education program director. "Simultaneously, Chris is a devoted educator, collaborator, leader and innovator. His many outward facing engagements through the Center for the Study of Childhood Art have established a national and international reputation for the University of Arkansas as a sought-after hub for the study of childhood art." 

Schulte earned his doctorate in art education from the Pennsylvania State University and has a diverse teaching background with experience in early childhood as well as elementary, middle and high schools in rural, suburban and urban settings, in addition to his career in higher education.

His long-term goal to develop a research, teaching and community-engagement center focused on childhood art was accelerated when he accepted the role of endowed professor in art education at the School of Art. 

Schulte describes himself as someone who likes to build things. He is especially interested in building programs and unique educational initiatives. 

The transformational gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation creating the School of Art also created an incredible opportunity to build and position the school as a center of excellence in art education, art history, graphic design and studio art curriculum. 

Schulte saw this opportunity to build, but ultimately decided to join the School of Art because of the gift's clear expectation that core principals of equity, diversity and inclusion be at the center of the school's development.

"It is rare to be part of an art education program like the one being built here," Schulte said. "I understand this to be a once in a generation opportunity, a chance to make a real, material difference—not only for the art education program, but also for the community and field of art education more broadly. As an endowed faculty member, it is important to me that the generosity of the gift and, specifically, the tremendous support I receive due to my position as an endowed chairholder, be used to effect meaningful and sustainable change for students, young people in the community and the field of art education and its related areas of inquiry."

Schulte's scholarship focuses on the artistic, play-based and aesthetic practices of young children, particularly childhood drawing, and the ways in which these practices materialize children's bodies, lives and ecologies. Schulte has published widely in handbooks and other edited volumes, as well as national and international peer-reviewed journals. Since joining the School of Art, Schulte edited and co-edited three major anthologies, with a fourth currently in press. 

He shares that his personal goal is to make the U of A's art education program an international destination for the study of childhood art. This goal is already progressing with the development of the CSCA, the only research, teaching and community engagement center in the world dedicated to the study and practice of childhood art.

"Christopher Schulte's Center for the Study of Childhood Art will be a valuable addition to the field of art education, while also being an important resource for the Northwest Arkansas community," said Gerry Snyder, executive director of the School of Art. "His commitment to studying the impact of art as a significant component of each child's life and educative experience will enrich our understanding of art and of childhood."  

The mission of the CSCA is a deep and intensive commitment to advancing critical and reconceptualized approaches to childhood art and its relationship to historical and contemporary childhoods.

"Art provides an important opportunity for children to contemplate their lives and relations to the world," Schulte said. "Art enables children to contemplate and test the pliability of experiences which may be difficult to face or challenging to understand."

Schulte is bringing the CSCA's mission to the community through diverse programming. 

CSCA's Childhood Art Speaker Series features leading scholar-practitioners whose research has the potential to reshape how individuals think about and approach the study of childhood art. The series is currently held virtually and is free and open to the public.

Childhood Art: A CSCA Podcast is designed to extend introductory engagements from the speaker series by facilitating interviews that further illuminate the work and its personal, historical, political, methodological and theoretical underpinnings.

The Sketch Pad, which was piloted this fall, is a free, community facing visual arts program designed for young people living in Northwest Arkansas to question, explore and extend the possibilities of art making in their lives. 

The program will serve as a site for the School of Art's students to conceptualize and enact curricular programming to challenge dominant ideologies related to children and childhood and to generate innovative, equitable and inclusive approaches to the visual arts and its education. In the future, The Sketch Pad will also serve as site for faculty and graduate student research. 

The Internship in Childhood Art offers School of Art undergraduate students a unique opportunity to gain experience related to the visual arts and its education in childhood. Depending on the intern and their professional interests, responsibilities are developed in relationship to one of three focus areas: Teaching and Learning, Design and Research. 

Beginning Spring 2022,the CSCA will launch its Annual Awards Program. The program will provide financial support for emerging and established scholar-practitioners, including faculty at the U of A, whose work makes timely and important contributions to the study of childhood art.

Schulte shared that he is excited about the challenges and opportunities within the art education program and CSCA. He and colleagues continue to imagine, plan and build for the future.

To read more about CSCA and Schulte's work, check out the website and follow the center on social media.

 

 

Contacts

Kayla Crenshaw, director of administration and communication
School of Art
479-575-5202, kaylac@uark.edu

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