Download the JVAP Notes for Contributors
Aims and Scope
Editor: Chris Smith, London Metropolitan University
The Journal of Visual Art Practice extends a project begun when the National Association for Fine Art Education first sponsored Drawing Fire in 1994. In supporting the setting up of a new, international refereed journal (incorporating the original Drawing Fire), the Association is responding to an increasingly complex set of interrelated opportunities and dilemmas, both within the UK educational sectors the Association serves and within the international context of art and art education as a whole.
The education of 'fine artists', seen as a body of practices, has always been influenced and contested by different interest groups. However, once academies and schools of art were relocated within state-controlled education systems, and particularly within the universities, it was inevitable that the traditional terrain of 'fine art' would be radically redefined. Change has been brought about both from within art education itself and by the reconfiguration of the art world since the mid-1970s; but above all by the major economic and cultural changes increasingly influencing further and higher education after the political watershed of 1968. As commentators as different as George Steiner and Zygmunt Bauman have argued, the increasing relocation of the humanities within a 'post culture', whether seen in terms of 'market-led consumption as entertainment' or otherwise, has had a major impact on the experience and practices of intellectuals, including those artists and art-related professionals employed as educators of art students.
'Fine art' education can now be seen as subject to powerful forces at work in terms of at least eight key areas: in shifting student expectations; in the way art is both produced and marketed; in the relationship between theoretical discourses, the visual arts and a media-driven culture; in the normalisation of the 'critical' within further and higher education through state intervention; in the relationship of 'fine art' to design and other allied disciplines; in the tensions inherent in a simultaneous 'globalisation' and 'regonalisation' of culture; in the social and educational impact of new technologies and, finally, in the relationship between art as symbolic practice and the construction of self.
As if this situation of tension and change were not enough to contend with, anyone teaching art students within higher education is increasingly likely to be balancing the competing opportunities and demands of a contract which may include teaching (at a number of levels), growing academic administration, a demand for high-profile output from personal art practice, income generation, academic research and publication, and the supervision of research students and/or direction of research associates. (Those teaching in further education have other, equally demanding issues, to balance.) The inevitable fragmentation and hybridisation of our shared collective experience that results from this diversity of demands has introduced a new, and growing, tension within the expanded field of art and art education. Institutions and individuals are inevitably rationalising and promoting those concerns and priorities which best serve their own particular agendas and needs, often at the expense of the field as a whole. However, as Nicholas de Ville has pointed out in relation to the interdisciplinary field, it is still vital that students (and those who teach them) do not see themselves in terms of 'a one-dimensional world of opposing terms', but as located within 'complex nucleic entities'. One reason for establishing a new international journal is to support us in doing just this.
Over the last ten years any number of conferences and seminars have attempted to identify and address the tensions and changes within the field, with individual thinkers working to clarify particular areas of concern. Valuable, indeed essential, as all these continuing attempts to remodel and rethink our current practices and their wider orientations are, they often fail to reach the broad constituency of artist educators. We believe this is in large part the result of the lack of a common, inclusive forum of sufficient breadth and authority. This journal hopes to provide just such a forum.
With regard to our title, it now seems essential to recognise that 'fine art' as a designation has been joined by other terms - 'contextual art practice', 'public art', 'critical art practice', 'design arts' - all terms which relate to it as much through difference as similarity. Any journal which seeks to encourage accurate accounts of the terrain in which we currently work must now encourage those who do not identify with traditional forms of 'fine art' education to contribute their views, in the hope that these will inform the general debates concerning the field as a whole.
By acknowledging the importance of the refereed article within academic culture, the Journal of Visual Art Practice is also deliberately seeking to open up and extend the constituency formerly addressed by Drawing Fire. We hope to encourage high-quality reflection on the full spectrum of issues which concern those who teach in the visual art field; to engage with a wider and more diverse constituency within that expanded field, both nationally and internationally; and to establish a distinctive voice for visual art practice in relation to current debates about the future function of further and higher education, both in the UK and overseas. Where relevant, we will include papers which deal with such areas as film, in so far as we feel these can inform visual art practice generally (as we have done in the current issue).