Judith Burton, an internationally known art educator who has melded a deep sense of artistic tradition with exploration of digital technology and other new tools, has been named Teachers College’s new Macy Professor of Education.
“It is a tribute to the enduring value of the arts in our work within this academic community that Judy Burton, a nationally and internationally art educator, will now carry forward the inspiration and commitment of the Macy legacy,” said Tom James, TC Provost and Dean.
Burton, who studied art in her native England and earned her doctorate at Harvard, has served on TC’s faculty since the late 1980s, most recently with the title of Professor of Art & Art Education. For many years she directed the College’s Art & Art Education Program and has also directed its Macy Gallery. In 1997 she founded the Heritage School, an arts-themed public high school in East Harlem that was funded by TC Trustee Joyce Cowin. She is also the creator of TC’s recently launched advanced certificate program in Creative Technologies.
DRAWING A LINE Burton views her work as building on that of past influential faculty members, including Arthur Wesley Dow, Edwin Ziegfeld and Maxine Greene.
Burton’ s writing, including her book, Conversations in Art: The Dialectics of Teaching and Learning (2012, National Art Education Association), co-edited with Mary Hafeli, Professor of Art & Art Education, is widely published in the United States, Europe and Asia. She has received the Manuel Barkan Award for excellence in research writing, the Lowenfeld Award for lifetime achievement in art education from the National Art Education Association and the Ziegfeld Award for services to international art education from The International Society for Education through Art (INSEA).
Burton is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts in Great Britain, a Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association, and serves as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, and the South China Normal University, Guangzhou. She is also a Trustee of the Maryland Institute College of Art and Chair of the Institute’s Academic Affairs Committee.
“Dow represented a belief that art education should be part of the normative education of teachers and thus of young people in school. Ziegfeld brought to TC a social sensibility – that through art we develop a social voice. And Maxine helped me to articulate for myself and our program that the aesthetic isn’t something we apply to something just to make better taste, but is in fact implicit in the way we form values, judgments and relationships.”
“I’m deeply grateful to be given this great honor, and it’s particularly significant because I spend all my time in a building endowed by the Macy family and in a gallery that carries their name – so it’s almost as if it’s coming home,” Burton said. “As far as I know, I’m also the first person in the arts to be thus honored at TC. It allows me to be a reflection of TC’s support and appreciation for the centrality of the arts as part of the educational process.”
Burton views her work as building on that of past influential faculty members, including Arthur Wesley Dow, who established TC’s Art & Art Education program at the beginning of the 20th century; Edwin Ziegfeld, who led the famed Owatonna Art Education Project during the 1930s and founded INSEA in 1954; and the late education philosopher Maxine Greene.
“Dow represented a belief that art education should be part of the normative education of teachers and thus of young people in school,” she says. “Ziegfeld brought to TC a social sensibility – that through art we develop a social voice. And Maxine helped me to articulate for myself and our program that the aesthetic isn’t something we apply to something just to make better taste, but is in fact implicit in the way we form values, judgments and relationships.”
Because of these and other faculty, Burton says, TC became a recognized world leader in art education whose alumni include the artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Alma Thomas, Ad Reinhardt, Elaine Sturtevant, William Daley, Raphael Montañez Ortiz and many others.
As varied as these artists are, Burton believes they have moved along a continuum, increasingly inviting the interpretation and even participation of their audiences. The latest iteration of that trend, which she very much supports, is the growing role of the community in both art and art education.
“I think we are now gradually moving away from schools. More and more, community agencies are picking up education, offering classes online, in centers. So I would see schools becoming hubs of a community network that would be supported by museums, concert halls, galleries, high-powered professional people – all bringing together a rich education for children.”