In/From the Art of Wenda Gu and Trinh T. Minh-ha, Towards a Transnational Model of Art Education

Open Access
Li, Yujie Julia
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
January 11, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Mary Ann Stankiewicz, Committee Chair
  • David M Ebitz, Committee Member
  • Sarah K Rich, Committee Member
  • Christine M Thompson, Committee Member
  • Brent Guy Wilson, Committee Member
  • pedagogy
  • education
  • art
  • transnationalism/transnationality
  • dialogism
  • Wenda Gu
  • Trinh T. Minh-ha
This research study aims to establish a transnational model of education and art education. Through interpreting and analyzing the artworks by two transnational artists, namely, Wenda Gu’s united nations and the forest of stone steles projects and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film A Tale of Love, I explore how to read art for educational and pedagogical implications. Objecting to the superficiality of defining transnational people on the basis of their act of physical border-crossing, I identify three qualities inherent to transnationality and transnationalism: multiplicity (heterogeneity), hybridity, and liminality. I argue that at root, transnationalism represents a different approach towards difference, an approach that negates binary thinking and promotes permeable subjectivity. Positioning myself simultaneously as an art critic and an art educator, I interpret the art by Gu and by Trinh from a transnational perspective, and analyze their common features, which include nomadism, dialogism, liminality, and border-crossing. Guided by three principles to approach artworks pedagogically, I propose that the pedagogy in a transnational model of education and art education needs to demonstrate these qualities: dialogism, hybridity, nomadism, reflectivity and reflexivity, fluid subjectivity, the view of difference as surmountable, and a goal to cultivate world citizens. This study not only offers an alternative in defining transnational individuals and transnationalism and transnationality, it also introduces the transnational artists and their artworks into the art classroom and identifies the characteristics of a transnational pedagogy. Further, it exemplifies a way to approach artworks for educational and pedagogical implications and in the meantime greatly enriches art teachers’ understanding of the art of the two contemporary artists on whom this study focuses.