Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Second Advisor

Gerardo Blanco Ramirez

Third Advisor

Glenn Gabbard


Despite increasing racial and ethnic diversity within the United States, people of color remain poorly represented in fields of art (Council of Arts Accrediting Associations, 2004). Some scholars have argued privileging of a Eurocentric focus is perpetuated and sustained in the curriculum and pedagogy of higher education institutes of art and design (Behague, 2006; Garfias, 1991) which may explain the underrepresentation of artists of color at institutes of art and design.

We need to understand when the curriculum and pedagogy at institutes of art and design disseminate knowledge, values and behaviors of White culture at the expense of students of color. Students of color may foreclose on their racial or ethnic identity, censor their artistic responses to conform to expectations of their artistic disciplines and experience negative self-concepts (Bernal, 2002; Stinesspring & Kennedy, 1995). Students of color may also be at a particular disadvantage and at risk academically if their own racial/ethnic and cultural knowledge is left out of their education (Agbo, 2001; Harris, 1990). The purpose of this study seeks to understand how a Eurocentric curriculum and pedagogy shape experiences for students of color (SOC) related to the development of racial/ethnic and cultural identity and behaviors in the classroom such as participation, learning and academic and artistic responses.

This study used the methodology of Portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) to create three portraits of students from one institute of art and design from the Northeast. Four themes surfaced around the experiences of these students within a Eurocentric curriculum and pedagogy. Students experienced an unwelcoming environment in studio and liberal arts courses, faculty who were out of touch and enacted micro-aggressions and racism and their identity whether it be racial/ethnic or cultural on the margins of the classroom and their learning. The last theme acknowledged that liberal arts courses offered space through culturally responsive curriculum and culturally relevant pedagogy for students to express their identity and personal voices. This study has profound implications for curriculum, faculty, departments at institutes of art and design and higher education in general addressing the needs of underrepresented students.


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