Collaborative researchers: Young children’s emergent play in the art studio

Open Access
Park, Hayon
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 29, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Christine Marme Thompson, Thesis Advisor
  • Christopher M Schulte, Thesis Advisor
  • Art Education
  • Early Childhood Art Education
  • Play
  • Academic Thesis
This study explores young children’s emergent collaborative play in the art studio in relation to the concepts of social interaction and art practice. Identifying the practice of sketchbook drawing as a vehicle for expanding physical and conceptual spaces, I investigate how children manifest their lived experiences through various forms of art(-making) and play, as performative embodiments. More specifically, I argue that voluntary drawing expands spaces of dimension, embodiment, and pedagogy, provoking children to spontaneously, individually, and collaboratively explore self-initiated play, which makes meaning and yields pedagogically rich learning experiences. Employing a phenomenological approach, I situate myself within the study as an observer, participant, and facilitator in the art studio of the museum-based learning lab school in Washington D.C. where I worked as a summer art specialist intern in 2015. I pay particular attention to the five-year-olds’ play events in the school’s art studio in order to understand how experiences are translated into creative embodiments (i.e., drawing, sculpting, and playing) and to understand how children’s social interactions generate greater opportunities for the children to challenge their competencies. Data consisting of field notes and photographs are presented to effectively portray children’s art(-making) and the distinctive play events using open-ended materials. The following questions are considered: How does the very fundamental act of art-making and the use of loose part materials encourage children to expand space in a way that their past experiences are translated and transformed into a different type of creative language? And how do children perform these creative embodiments as a collaborative group with multiple agencies upon material encounters?