Jude Adams

Gendering, careers and the art school curriculum


The inclusion of art schools within the tertiary education sector, the development of an arts industry and the expansion of the market have changed the nature and purpose of art schools.

One way to measure this change is by the increase in professional and career-based courses within the art school curriculum. At one level these courses are a positive development, making particular knowledges explicable and available while providing new career paths for young artists. However, a more problematic assessment, particularly for women students, is that they professionalise auxiliary roles traditionally regarded as ‘feminine’.

Further reinforcing this association of femininity with professionalism is the tendency of art schools (in line with universities’ corporate-based regulatory practices) to replace a modernist / avant-garde focus on originality, assertiveness and independence with the values of flexibility, cooperation, communication and consumption. This raises the question as to whether the university art school is contributing to the construction of a new artistic subjectivity with the singular role of the artist replaced by a flexible, fluid identity composed of multiple roles (eg artist/curator/administrator).

The proposition, that the professionalisation of art schools has been accompanied by a process of feminisation was put to students in a Research Methods course. In the rapidly changing workplace of the university there is little time for pedagogical reflection, so it is often these interstitial spaces of emerging knowledges that foster enquiry and critique. Hence this paper, while addressing the topic of the art school as a gendered site in terms of discourse and everyday practices, will also consider how new emergent disciplines can open a space for reflection and curricula correction.

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Jude Adams:

Jude Adams is a lecturer in Visual Art & Design History/Theory at the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia. Jude teaches core and elective courses including Australian Art: image and identity, The Moving Image: cinema and art, Sex, Gender & Representation, and Professional Practice. In 2003 she initiated and developed the successful Visual Arts Industry Internship Program, a project-based work experience course for Honours and final year students. Her research interests include modernist women artists, gender in contemporary visual practices, community cultural development and art school curriculum issues and graduate career paths.

She has written two papers on the Art Industry Internship Program —
Projects, Placements and Participation: the Art Industry Internship Program (2006)
Employment and Engagement: Evaluating Art Industry Internships (2007)