Studio Learning and Non-Art Graduate Students: A worthwhile match?

Olga Hubard, Assistant Professor of Art Education at Teachers College, is rethinking what it means to get a graduate education. Her current study, entitled Studio learning and non-art graduate students: A worthwhile match? investigates the benefits of studio art courses for students who are not in an art related field of study.

“The studio experience is very close to my heart and always has been,” she says. After studying art history for four years in Mexico, Hubard was missing the hands-on experience of art-making. She came to New York for an MFA in Painting and then earned her Masters and a Doctorate in Art Education at Teachers College, where she now holds a faculty position. When the opportunity arose to teach a studio course she jumped at it. Her current research developed as she began to see interesting things happening in her Intro to Painting courses that she wanted to look at more closely.

Teachers College presents a perfect backdrop to examine, from the students’ perspective, what it is they feel they gain from a studio course in the context of their graduate education. “Teachers College is one of the few places where there are serious intro level studio courses taken by graduate students specializing in an area that may not be related at all—or may be only marginally related—to art,” says Hubard.

To Hubard, the studio experience is not just a frill or a diversion as some may think of it. To her, it represents a deeper form of learning. Through her research, she notes, “There are a number of things that students say they gain from the course. Among other gains, students talk about how they become awake to the world in new ways…how they start seeing things differently…noticing things they never noticed before because of the painting.”

Hubard uses these insights from her research to inform her teaching. “I often adopt the language of the students and build it right back into my class,” she says. But beyond affecting her own practice, Hubard has deeper goals for her current research. She hopes to help educators recognize the potential of studio to enhance higher learning and to potentially change curriculum. “What aspects of life are we shutting out in graduate education?” she asks. “And how we might reincorporate them?”

OLGA HUBARD is Assistant Professor of Art Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Hubard comes to Teachers College from the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in New York, where she served as the Head of Education. Hubard has collaborated in a variety of education initiatives with other museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), among others. She received her doctorate at Teachers College in the Art Education Department. Through her scholarship, she seeks to understand and find ways to cultivate the meaningful art experiences that all people can have in the art studio, in museums, and in everyday life.