Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Monday 10.29.18

Contemporary Artists on Racism, Sexism, & Ableism

From Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

Art is pedagogical when encounters with the art generate ideas, reflection, critique, questions, and dialogue. In this fifth and final weekly post for the October 2018 series, I focus on contemporary art and facilitation strategies to inspire critical and creative visual thinking on racism, sexism, and ableism.

My selection of art comes from a one-day pop-up exhibition titled Overlap: The Warp and Weft of Intersectionality to be held at the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State on November 2, 2018. Martha Wilson and I curated a show of works on paper from the Palmer’s collection. We focused on works that explore female subjectivity intersected with race, class, sexuality, among other identities.

Martha Wilson (b. 1947) is a pioneering feminist artist and gallery director, who over the past four decades created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity through role-playing, costume transformations, and “invasions” of other people’s personae. Artist Martha Wilson founded Franklin Furnace—a nonprofit in 1976—dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of performance, artists’ books, and other ephemeral art forms.

Kimberlé Crenshaw describes intersectionality as “a metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage” convergence such as how racial stereotypes compounded with gender stereotypes deepen injustice toward, for example. Black girls. Art is pedagogical when the study of the histories of intersectional discrimination brings understanding and teaches ways to intervene to erode systems of oppression. As Crenshaw states, “you can’t change outcomes without understanding how they come about.”

Yolanda López’s Woman's Work Is Never Done

I met Yolanda López in the 1980s in Oregon through her sister, Anna Lee Lively, who joined some of the activist work I was doing at the time. Yolanda López participated in activism in California through her art, and is one of the best-known artists of the Chicano art movement. López's experiences informed her art, which ranges from posters to portraiture and the Virgin of Guadalupe series, an investigation of the Virgin of Guadalupe as an influential female icon, to her more recent installations and videos such as Images of Mexicans in the Media. Her media series, Cactus Hearts/Barbed Wire Dreams, is comprised of numerous installations, including Things I Never Told My Son About Being a Mexican. This installation explores identity, assimilation, and cultural change. Identity is not a self-contained unit, rather identity is constructed from relationships between people, their histories, and contemporary contexts. López has consistently challenged predominant modes of Latina/o/x representation. She proposes new models of gender, racial, and cultural identity.

Her project, Woman's Work Is Never Done, includes a series of prints, as well as the installation The Nanny, which explores the invisibility of immigrant women as domestic workers. The installation was showcased in the 1994 San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibition “Mirror, Mirror…Gender Roles and the Historical Significance of Beauty.” Martha Wilson and I selected the 20 x 20 inch silkscreen, Homenaje a Dolores Huerta, from Women’s Work Is Never Done series, 1995 for the November 2, 2018 pop-up exhibition. Dolores Huerta co-founded, with César Chávez, the Union of United Field Workers. Huerta raised her voice and built coalitions to achieve legal protections and a better standard of living for agricultural workers. In 1998, President Bill Clinton honored her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Human Rights and in 2012 President Barack Obama granted her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I began writing this blog entry on the subway train on my way to the Brooklyn Museum on October 28, 2018, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the curators at the Brooklyn Museum included Homenaje a Dolores Huerta in their exhibition, Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection.

As López wrote in 2008 (Women’s Work is Never Done, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco):

“Growing up in San Diego, ten minutes from the Mexican/U.S. international border amid a family with a cast of characters suitable for any Gregory Nava script, my family spoke English and Mexico City Spanish in equal measure. Victoria Fuentes Castillo, my grandma, tried to teach me civility. However it was her critical and wry conversation that interested me the most. My beautiful and meticulously groomed mother, Margaret, worked in the basement of the Grant Hotel and several French laundries as a presser. In 1978 she designed and created for me a contemporary Guadalupe gown, based on a Calvin Klein disco dress pattern. Indelibly I learned from her the sacredness of a union picket line.”

Yolanda López further stated:

“It is important for us to be visually literate; it is a survival skill. The media is what passes for culture in contemporary U.S. society, and it is extremely powerful. It is crucial that we systematically explore the cultural mis-definition of Mexicans and Latin Americans that is presented in the media.”

Founded in 2007, The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) represents more than two million women, many of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA states: “We are the women who care for this country. We are Black, we are women of color, we are immigrants. Behind closed doors we face harassment, abuse, and discrimination. We are uniting with women everywhere so that all workplaces are safe and dignified.”

The conditions of the workplace compounded with the disparity of wages must be understood from an intersectional perspective to change the discriminatory system. For example, in 2018 in the United States, Black women working full-time earn 63 cents for each dollar paid for work by a White man. White women earn 79 cents for every dollar made by a White man. “Latinas and Native American women, experience a gap that is even larger, making 54 cents and 57 cents per dollar, respectively.” “According to the US Census Bureau, 54 million Americans have a disability, and people with severe disabilities working full time earn approximately $1,000 less per month than non-disabled workers. Meanwhile, 13.3 million people with disabilities between the ages 16 and 64 have experienced difficulty finding employment in the first place because of their disability” (Houlis, April 16, 2018).

What are five distinctly different ways to interpret a women’s work is never done?

Find images of women working. What are they doing? What are the social conditions that may have led to such work? Is the work valued and by whom? What impact does the work have on the social fabric that connects people? How is sexism, racism, and/or ableism challenged or manifested in the images of women working?


Monday 10.22.18

Intersectionality: Art Education Challenging Sexism, Racism, Ableism

From Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

Deborah Smith-Shank and I founded the journal Visual Culture & Gender (VCG) in 2005. It is the first multimedia online journal in the field of art education. VCG, has an established international review board of feminist scholars and is accessible in numerous databases and at Yen-Ju Lin joined as Associate Editor in 2017. VCG reached its 10-year anniversary in 2015, is well into its second decade, and thrives as a freely accessed journal that uses visual images as the focus of interrogations into issues of gender. VCG exposes culturally learned meanings and power relations that surround the creation, consumption, valuation, and dissemination of images of gender in relation to race, age, sexuality, (dis)ability, and social class. Our purpose continues to be promotion of international dialogues about visual culture and gender and to encourage the use of multimedia for analysis and presentation of such inquiry. Feminist research emphasizes social justice and starts from the premise that gender and sexuality intersect with other identity aspects historically conditioned by social and political power. Gender is both lived and symbolic of relationships of power. Gender body politics concern exclusion and marginalization.


Associate editor, Yen-Ju Lin and I are pleased to announce the September 2018 publication of Visual Culture & Gender, volume 13. The articles are timely and significant readings for students, educators, activists, artists, and scholars. Visual Culture & Gender, volume 13, contributes to challenging patriarchal visual culture narratives. In volume 13 of Visual Culture & Gender, Chiara L. Bernardi writes about building a database, called the “Feminicidios Reclassification Project,” from the digital dust gathered online about murdered or missing women and girls in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Satyasikjha Chakraborty’s essay concerns her critical research at the intersections of racism and sexism in postcards, and how their circulation supported and maintained an oppressive social system. In “Queer Vibrant Matters: Remarks on Nick Cave’s Community Engagements,” James H. Sanders III discusses his involvement in performance artist Nick Caves’ 2017 community work, Until, and vision for the pedagogical implications of including Cave’s work in critical race and queer studies art curricula. Camilla Mørk Røstvik argues in her article, “Crimson Waves: Narratives about Menstruation, Water, and Cleanliness,” that menstrual product companies rely in their recent advertisements on feminist artists’ and activists’ approaches. Kevin Jenkins’s commentary, “Jumping the Gun: Uncritical Trans Ally Artivism Post-HB2,” provides advice on trans allyship. Michelle Bae-Dimitriadis and Olga Ivaskevich’s article, “Barbie Play and the Public Pedagogy of Abjection,” presents their case study of girls’ play with the iconic Barbie doll, in which the authors use Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection as an epistemological framework to interpret the play as disruption to hegemonic gender regimes.



The non-profit arts organization Through the Flower invites artists, scholars, and educators to apply for the annual award named in honor of Judy Chicago, one of the Feminist Art Movement’s key founders and a pioneer in feminist art education.

JC-AWARD “I have devoted my life to trying to end the ongoing erasure of
women's achievements through my art; I have left
a path in my archives which is why they
provide a way to BUILD on our history
rather than repeat it.
”  Judy Chicago

“I appreciate the validation to my work . . .
After learning about women artists, it gave me hope.”
Melissa Leaym-Fernandez, 2018 award winner 

The Judy Chicago Art Education Award was established by Through the Flower to support artists, scholars, and educators who through their research, teaching, and leadership have contributed to ending the erasure of women’s history. A $1,000 award is presented annually to projects which utilize any of the three Judy Chicago archives as a resource for research and/or teaching:


For more information on the various archives, award winning teaching projects, and research with the collections, as well as how to apply, visit


Sunday 10.14.18

Decentering Normal

From Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

A sense of belonging in the world is necessary to participate in co-creating the world. What have society, teachers, and students normalized as ideals of success, beauty, and behavior in 2018? What does the visual culture (e.g., advertisements, politics, films, games, news) present as normal and desirable? What would an art education in which young people learned to value difference and to decenter normative notions of misogyny, gender violence, White privilege, and ableism include? Whose lives are silenced and constantly live in fear of disenfranchisement of human rights? Deep divisions between hegemonic power and marginalized people are the social normative today.

As Michelle Kraft and I discuss in our book, Including Difference, a COMMUNITARIAN paradigm situates individuality in relation to others and reinforces interdependence as a sense of belonging (Kraft & Keifer-Boyd, 2013). Communitarian education teaches toward full participation of all within the community. From a communitarian lens, productivity, or efficiency, becomes contribution; liberty is exercised through opportunity for self-determination in choice-making; and equality extends, not from a compensatory approach, but from a position that values the contributions that all are able to make to the well-being of all. For example, to generate changes in perceptions of disability as abnormal, include viewing and discussing artworks that challenge and reclaim what disability means. Include discussion questions to identify if, and how, the art challenges pervasive disenabling narratives.

Curricula matters. What art works do you include in your curriculum? What questions do you ask? In regards to your curriculum, what is celebrated and what is ignored? Does it matter if the inclusion of the art normalizes misogyny, violence, White privilege, or ableism? Viewing the video Love the Art, Hate the Artist [2018, Sept. 6, 10:13 min. video] at can generate deep discussions among colleagues and students about questions raised in this blog entry.


Kraft, M., & Keifer-Boyd, K. (2013). Including difference: A communitarian approach to art education in the Least Restrictive Environment. Reston, VA: The National Art Education Association.


Monday 10. 8.18

Disability Justice

From Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

Disability justice is a socio-political activist framework that recognizes entangled forms of oppression – queer women of color with disabilities, trans and gender non-conforming people with disabilities, people with disabilities who are incarcerated, people with disabilities who have had their ancestral lands stolen or refugees with disabilities, amongst others. Disability justice activists employ civil disobedience when advocacy and other civil processes fail to protect access to community-based services.

Sins Invalid, founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, has a website with an inclusive definition of disability of those “whose bodies do not conform to our culture(s)’ notions of ‘normal’ or ‘functional,’” as well as arts educational resources and performance videos at (Sins Invalid, n.d., para. 2). Littleglobe Disability Justice Collective, founded in 2013 and based in New Mexico, has a website that presents current and archived arts-based projects and bios of artists, as well as links to affiliate collectives (see The D.O.P.E. Collective, founded in 2015 and based in Buffalo, New York, presents inclusion principles with graphics and offers free and accessible art workshops with booking information at their website (see

Questions to explore in teaching and research:

  • How does media represent disability? How does this differ from ADA definitions?
  • How is exclusion and inclusion sustained or disrupted?
  • How is disability marked or signified?


My research regarding these questions is the focus of a chapter titled “Creativity, Disability, Diversity, and Inclusion” in an important 2018 Handbook of arts education and special education: Policy, research, and practices edited by Jean Crockett & Sharon Malley. My chapter begins with a discussion of disability identity and representation, followed by a section on strategies to creatively deconstruct disabling narratives. The third section examines diversity awareness education approaches: culturally responsive, critical multicultural, oppositional, and post-oppositional. The final section of the chapter calls for the inclusion of difference.


Monday 10. 1.18

Including Difference

From Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

NAEA invited those who received NAEA awards in 2018 to be a guest author for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog with weekly posts related to the award. I am honor to have receive the 2018 NAEA, CEC, VSA Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Lifetime Achievement Award. My lifetime work is based on my deep belief that visual art is integral to forming subjectivity, community, agency, and enacting social change.

Visual art is also a powerful way to interpret histories, concepts, and experiences. Socially engaged participatory art can develop human potentials for dialogue, empathy, personal and collective healing, and can create solutions to nuanced and complex eco-social justice issues, documenting, and exploring beliefs, theories, and histories. Eco-social justice art builds democracy while visual art empowers human potential through teaching, leadership, and continuous learning. Transdisciplinary creativity as a social process in visual art can develop response-abilities, translate-abilities, and sense-abilities—and other competencies and capabilities necessary for democracy to thrive.

The following roles that I have served convey my life-long deep commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. I am a professor of art education and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State, and past president of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Women’s Caucus (2012-2014), NAEA Distinguished Fellow Class of 2013, the 2013 Ziegfeld Awardee, and 2012 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Gender Studies at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria. I have served as coordinator of the Caucus of Social Theory in Art Education (CSTAE) and as CSTAE’s journal editor.

I serve on the Have Art: Will Travel! Inc. For Gender Justice (HAWT) Advisory Council. In this role, I serve as consultant working with museum directors and educators, organizations, and programs interested in gender justice curricula for school groups. Social Justice Art Education (SJAE) curricular encounters with Linda Stein’s art series promote the critical consciousness necessary to challenge injustice. The SJAE encounters offer teaching strategies for participants to engage with artworks in ways that call for reflection upon their upstander behaviors that dismantle power differentials. These strategies model processes of critical reading across differences and create opportunities to destabilize assumptions of the unfamiliar and locate possible common grounds that encourage empathetic understandings of other perspectives. The encounters, resources, and artworks are at

Alice Wexler and I serve as the only two visual art educators on a Research and Evaluation writing team of the Education Division at the Kennedy Center. The team developed a five-year research plan published in August 2017 as a brochure for educators that maps research milestones. The link to the plan is

In serving on the Steering Committee for the Art Education Research Institute (AERI), I developed one of the AERI 2017 featured panels “Disability Justice: Ethics, Access, and Equity Arts Education Research.” This panel resulted in a Studies commentary. See Keifer-Boyd, K., Bastos, F., Richardson, S., & Wexler, A. (2018). Disability justice: Rethinking “inclusion” in arts education research. Studies in Art Education, 59(3), 267-271. In this commentary, we draw attention to the problematic language of inclusionism, a term used to reveal institutional terminology that purposely obscures the fundamental notions of disability justice. Ism, added to inclusion, refers to systemic forms of exclusion that appear to be acts of inclusion, but instead isolate difference through established norms.

With Michelle Kraft, I have co-authored Including Difference: A Communitarian Approach to Art Education in the Least Restrictive Environment (NAEA, 2013). Including Difference is dedicated to art educators who endeavor to create participatory, inclusive classroom communities for learners of all abilities. The communitarian paradigm emphasizes respect, mutual responsibility, and interdependence that all stakeholders share within a community.

Within a communitarian, inclusive art class, we see that educational efficiency, or productivity, is not measured in terms of cost-benefit analysis; instead it is assessed in terms of one’s opportunity to contribute through active and full participation within the class community. In an interdependent community, everyone has contributions to make. Communitarianism emerges from the concept of empowerment by difference. Consequently, equality is not an absolute but is relative to one’s needs. Communitarian liberty empowers one to actively participate in the educative process through choice-making in a safe and enabling environment.

Including Difference is the responsibility of all members of a learning community to find strengths and build capacities in each other.

Including Difference is moving away from ableist assumptions of impairment to disability as an ecological/political/societal barrier.

As civil rights legislation, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is rooted in the precepts set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka (1954), a case dealing with race and equal protection. Similarly, the Least Restrictive Environment mandate in IDEA (2004) states that students experiencing disabilities are to be educated alongside their “non-disabled” peers to the maximum extent appropriate (U.S.C. 20 § 1412 (a)(5)(A)). In educating all students toward full participation in a democratic society, the concept of empowerment through difference sits at the core of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), as it does with all examples of civil rights legislation.

Consequently, an art education that fosters democratic values should empower students to act on their visual environments in ways that reflect their beliefs and values by examining critically the larger systems that encompass their lives—belief systems, patterns of thought, representations of self—that are directly related to the pervasive influx of visual imagery that tells them what to believe, how to think, how to be. [This idea is developed further in the book, Engaging Visual Culture, that I wrote with Jane Maitland-Gholson, published by Davis in 2007.]

Such empowerment and critical reflection, then, occurs through interaction and dialogue with others within the community, especially with those who are different from oneself. In this way, the inclusive art class community becomes more dynamic, more democratic, and its participants are more mutually invested as they are able to value the diversity of all of its members, regardless of (dis)ability.

Including Difference:

  • Challenges and reclaims what disability means
  • De-centers notions of normal
  • Employs art to explore difference, identity, experience, and capacities
  • Fosters diversity awareness of stereotypes and clichés of disability