Alyson Pouls

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Siegesmund, Richard

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Art and Design


Art--Study and teaching; Arts; Curriculum planning; Higher education


Traditional art foundations models focus on teaching freshman level art students strategies of visual composition through the use of the elements and principles of design. These visual qualities are presented as the fundamental basis for all art compositions. Rooted in the early 20th century modernist concept of formalism, the elements and principles purposely divorce art from narrative, social, or cultural influences, in favor of standardized visual regulations, repeated exercises, and technical skills. However, K-12 art educators, higher education art education faculty, and foundations faculty agree that visual and technical skills must be supported by a conceptual element, central to the artist's voice, reflecting an ever changing and evolving personal and social discourse in support of democratic practice. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of Modernist formalism and Postmodern art theory on written foundations curricula in the United States, by gathering course descriptions from 97 public and private colleges, to locate formal, technical, and conceptual language imbedded within art foundations. Based on aesthetic theories suggested by Ranciere, Foucault, Dewey, and Efland, this study results in practical, applicable suggestions for a transformed art foundations curriculum that weaves together concept, skill, and visual qualities for a relevant foundations paradigm.


Advisors: Richard Siegesmund.||Committee members: Kryssi Staikidis; Elizabeth Wilkins.||Includes bibliographical references.


211 pages




Northern Illinois University

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