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Arkansas Art Educators

Arkansas Art Educators (AAE) is a statewide organization of art teachers. The organization’s focus is to advocate for art education through supporting legislation and providing quality professional development for all art instructors in the state.

AAE began as the art section of the Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), which later became the Arkansas Education Association (AEA). The art group met as early as November 1922 for the ASTA fall conference. Classroom teachers from across the state gathered to discuss how to incorporate picture study and art history into the classroom curriculum. The group continued to meet yearly to hold elections and to discuss ways to further art education in the Arkansas school system.

Members supported art education by writing articles published in the AEA’s Journal of Arkansas Education. Past presidents Mabel Jamison, who worked in the Rohwer Relocation Center, and Clara B. White of Kramer School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) were among many who wrote articles in support of art education for all students. Through the group’s efforts, art became a standalone subject at the high school level and continued to be incorporated in regular classrooms at the elementary level. By the 1950s, the art section was now called the Arkansas Art Education Association (AAEA) and held conferences each fall focusing on trends in the field of art education including art creation, art history, and expanding the role of art education in the schools. AAEA instituted its first organizational constitution in 1955, outlining the duties of the executive board and council as well as membership responsibilities, in addition to establishing state delegates to attend the regional Western Arts Association meetings and the National Art Education Association’s annual conference. AAEA functioned as a self-governing organization while affiliating with the state regional and national associations.

Major milestones in the following decades included constitutional expansion in 1967, which added the state art specialist as a permanent member of the executive board. AAEA members worked to create the first statewide elementary art curriculum, which was also published in 1967 by State Art Specialist Edwin Brewer. Former presidents Carolyn Hofmann and Joe Scott were instrumental in AAEA unifying with the National Art Education Association on April 22, 1977. The group published its first newsletter in 1984.

In 1988, the group was awarded 501(c) nonprofit status. Sometime earlier, the organization’s name had been changed to Arkansas Art Educators. AAE members continued to support art education legislation for art in junior high and were instrumental in passing Act 1506 of 2001, known as the Art in the Public Elementary Schools of Arkansas Act. Members helped write and revise the state art frameworks and support certified art teachers in the classroom. AAE annually produces a three-day conference to continue teacher dialogue and art skills and discuss current trends. AAE sponsors “Portfolio Day,” created by past president Cathy Porter in 1984, and the State Art Show, created in 1992. The AAE President’s Fund Foundation was formed to award scholarships to teachers wanting to continue their education.

For additional information:
Arkansas Art Educators. http://www.ararted.org (accessed February 22, 2010).

May, Ronda R. “Art Education in Arkansas: The Organizational History of the Arkansas Art Educators from 1922 to the Present.” Master’s thesis, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2008.

Stinnett, T. M., and Clara B. Kennan. All This and Tomorrow Too: A History of the Arkansas Education Association. Little Rock: Arkansas Education Association, 1969.

Ronda R. May
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated 9/1/2010

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