Piggies and portraits competing at the county fair: an ethnographic case study of student art competitions
Vaughan, Frances Ann
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This ethnographic case study examines the experiences of K-12 art educators who participate in student art competitions. The local County Fair art competition provides a context for revealing the motivations for participation, influences on teaching, and value placed on competition results. In-depth, qualitative interviews and a document analysis of competition materials received by teachers were used to inform this research. Additional data was provided through interviews with two students whose artwork was submitted into the competition and the County Fair art competition judge. Data revealed the tensions felt by art educators between their personal art education philosophies and the importance placed on these contests as an assessment of their teaching and art programs. The prestige and recognition received by teachers for their students’ winning works resulted in its existence as a form of symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 2011) within educator communities. These insights provide new understandings into a rarely examined phenomenon, despite its ongoing presence in the field of art education.