Emily Turner

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art Education

Committee Chair

Terese Giobbia

Committee Co-Chair

Dylan Collins

Committee Member

Kristina Olson


Within art education there is a contradiction between learning opportunities currently provided within the middle school art classroom, specifically in relation to media, and authentic contemporary artistic behavior and practice. Art educators focus instruction on traditional forms of media (i.e. drawing & painting) while evading contemporary art and artists. Much of what contemporary art is today is represented through everyday objects/materials and educators must provide students with an opportunity to experience both inquiry and contemporary art-making through media outside of the canon. Our personal identity, culture, and reality are composed of material forms, which often go unnoticed due to the proliferation of virtual imagery and digital information. Although the integration of emerging technology within visual art pedagogy has obvious benefits to student success in a contemporary society, acknowledgment and appreciation of material culture, the tangible world around us, warrants attention. Art education has many aims, which include both exposure to contemporary art and a heightened sensitivity to the physical world in which we live.;The implementation of a collaborative material culture art project provided opportunities for middle school students to engage meaningfully in relevant cultural inquiry, as well as contemporary art making processes. Through material culture, middle school students were exposed to contemporary art, which extended beyond canonical representation reflecting the authenticity of everyday life. This study revealed how the integration of material culture into a middle school art education curricula can benefit students' understanding of contemporary art and engagement with artistic behavior.;Using case study methodology, this research investigated the effect one specific material culture art lesson had on a single class of middle school students in an urban setting in West Virginia. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential of common materials towards cultivating artistic behaviors and enriching middle-level students' perceptive and conceptual understanding in a contemporary educational context. The research questions, which framed the study included 1) How do material culture lessons promote student understanding of contemporary art in a middle school art class? 2) How do material culture lessons support artistic behavior among middle school students? 3) How do material culture lessons foster appreciation for everyday objects/materials among middle school students? The findings, resulting from the case study, appear to suggest improvements in students' understanding of contemporary art and appreciation for everyday materials/objects, as well as a comprehensive engagement with artistic behaviors.