Art education professor writes book on development of visual arts education

June 30, 2016

Mary Ann Stankiewicz, Penn State professor of art education, has written Developing Visual Arts Education in the United States: Massachusetts Normal Art School and the Normalization of Creativity, published June 22 by academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan. Packaged by SPi Global in Chennai, India, the book is part of a series on the arts in higher education. Stankiewicz’s research was supported in part by two College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Research Grants.

Based on dozens of years of archival research, Developing Visual Arts Education in the United States examines how Massachusetts Normal Art School (founded in 1873 and continuing today as Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston) became the alma mater par excellence for generations of art educators, designers and artists. The founding myth of American art education is the story of Walter Smith, the school’s first principal. Stankiewicz examines how Smith’s students formed a professional network dispersing art education across the United States, establishing college art departments and supervising art in the public schools of industrial cities. As administrative progressives they created institutions and set norms for the growing field of art education through the 1920s.

Scholars have praised the book’s accessibility, rigorous scholarship, and resonance with current debates in the field of art education. “Mary Ann Stankiewicz has produced a masterpiece. … She uses a broad array of creative scholarly perspectives to create her picture of MNAS and its founder. This is a work to be enjoyed, and, hopefully, to be emulated,” said education historian Wayne J. Urban, Paul W. Bryant Professor of Education at the University of Alabama.

Lois Hetland, professor and graduate coordinator of art education at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, echoes Urban’s sentiments. “This credible history of how art education developed in the public sector is one that every artist-educator, advocate, artist, and educator will benefit from understanding.”

Stankiewicz, senior editor of Studies in Art Education, also recently wrote an editorial, “Learning in Time and Place,” for the publication, which has both print and digital versions published by Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group. Studies in Art Education, the quarterly journal of research and issues for the National Art Education Association (NAEA), is considered the top research journal in art education in the United States. Stankiewicz’s essay can be accessed at

Stankiewicz is the only art educator to have served as president of the National Art Education Association (2003–05), editor of Art Education (1995–98), and senior editor of Studies in Art Education (2015–17). In spring 2014, she received the NAEA’s National Art Educator of the Year Award. She will give a paper, “Student Bodies, State Bodies: A Half-Century of Regulating Art Students,” based on Developing Visual Arts Education in the United States, at the annual conference of the International Standing Committee on the History of Education in Chicago in mid-August. 

Last Updated July 28, 2017