Andrew Buck Ceramics
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A QUALITATIVE MULTIPLE CASE STUDY OF
FOUR ADULT GRADUATE CERAMIC ART STUDENTS
ENROLLED IN DIFFERENT
MASTER OF FINE ARTS (MFA) DEGREE PROGRAMS
Andrew S. Buck, Ed.D.
This research endeavor sought to understand the distinct journeys of four adult graduate art students as they developed their ideas and artwork in relationship to a variety of personal, material, social and cultural forces situated within the university ceramic art studio. The research took the form of an exploratory, descriptive multiple case study of four graduate level students who completed their different MFA ceramic art programs in 2014. It was found that several areas influenced the emergence of the students’ artwork and ideas. The students’ biographical and artistic histories with which each began their respective MFA ceramic art journeys appeared to have a significant relationship to the trajectory of their artwork and ideas throughout their MFA experience. The students’ highly motivated and ambitious exploration of materials also appeared to contribute to their artistic development. The continuous production of new work by adult students in the graduate studios was critical to initiating dialogical teaching and learning which precipitated critical inquiry, reflection and revision. Two distinctive features appeared to characterize these university ceramic art studios. A high level of aesthetic risk-taking was fostered in these particular studios. This appeared to emerge from deep levels of mutual trust, respect, encouragement, and dialogue between graduate students and faculty. Also within the university ceramic art studios, the students appeared to mobilize their ideas and artwork through rigorous, critical inquiry. Research for the graduate student artists took several forms including felt experience, material and technical investigations, reading, aesthetic inquiry, conceptual development, and personal reflection. The contemporary art world and ceramic art world contributed to the conditions through which these four MFA ceramic art students cultivated their unique, dynamic aesthetic sensibilities by leaving open the frame of possibilities for emerging three-dimensional artwork. The research argues for the possibility of an emerging mindful aesthetics, a dynamic state of knowledge and awareness, which served as the ground upon which graduate adult students made and advanced their artwork. The educational implications of approaches to research for graduate students in the visual arts and the importance of the studio as a sanctuary are discussed based on the findings of this research.
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