Art Education Honors

University of Dayton area coordinator for art education R. Darden Bradshaw won local, state and national honors for her commitment to preparing the next generation of artists and educators.

The National Art Education Association honored Bradshaw in March with its 2017 Western Region Higher Education Art Educator award, which encompasses 16 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. In addition, she was honored in February with the Dayton Art Institute’s 2017 Pamela P. Houk Award for Excellence in Art Education. And in November, Bradshaw received the 2016 Ohio Art Education Association award in the higher education division.

The National Art Education Association award, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes the exemplary contributions, service and achievements of an outstanding NAEA member annually at the regional level of their division, from elementary school to college and university art teachers.

“This award is given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator,” said Patricia Franklin, NAEA president. “R. Darden Bradshaw exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”

Bradshaw was nominated for the NAEA award by the Ohio Art Education Association, after receiving its statewide honor in the university division. She accepted the award at the organization’s national convention in New York City, where she also presented her research as part of an art education issues panel.

“Being recognized in this way within the state of Ohio and then within the multi-state region brings acknowledgement to the program,” said Bradshaw, also an assistant professor of art education. “It signals, at least in my mind, the way in which it is growing and the value of our art education program here at UD.”

The art education program, housed in the department of art and design, currently has 14 undergraduate students pursuing bachelor’s degrees — a 600 percent increase from two students in 2013, when Bradshaw joined the University faculty and began rewriting the art education curriculum. Graduates of the program receive a professional studio degree with teacher licensure, making them a professional artist and a licensed educator ready to walk into a classroom.

“It is a very intense program, so students really have to be dedicated,” Bradshaw said. “But, so far, we’ve had a 100 percent placement rate. Our students are being placed as teachers, many before graduation.”

About 70 percent of the interdisciplinary program involves studio art and art education courses within the art and design department. Students also take specialized education courses within the School of Education and Health Sciences.

The program partners with Dayton-area schools such as Mound Elementary School in Miamisburg, where art education students teach first- and second-graders as part of their coursework. The experience culminates in an exhibition of the elementary students’ artwork.

Art education students also work in the local community as interns at organizations that include We Care Arts, K12 Gallery and the Dayton Art Institute.

As a researcher, Bradshaw focuses on integrating the visual arts into middle school classrooms to help students develop empathy. Before earning her doctorate in art history and education from the University of Arizona in 2013, she worked for six years as a middle school art integration specialist in the Tucson Unified School District.

“We have seen an incredible increase in bullying and in issues of power within school systems,” she said. “My research supports that art is a vehicle through which students can find their own voice, but at the same time understand and begin to develop empathy for other people through that process.”

Bradshaw serves as a consultant and trainer for the nationally recognized non-profit organization Arts Integration Solutions, where she engages professional educators, both inside and outside the art disciplines, in creating innovative art integration curricular engagements for grades K-12. She also served as an editorial review board member for the Journal of Art Education from 2011-2014. Currently, she is on the editorial review board of the Journal of Social Theory in Art Education.

In spring 2016, Bradshaw was a curator of the University of Dayton’s Living Glass: Sustaining Memory Through Light exhibit, in which students and faculty transformed reclaimed stained glass windows from the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception into new works of art that communicated what the University’s Marianist identity and community mean to them.

“We appreciate Dr. Bradshaw’s excellence in teaching and the very positive impact she makes on our students and within numerous art education communities,” said Judith Huacuja, department of art and design chair. “We are pleased and honored to have her as part of our learning environment.”

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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