Deakin University

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A theoretical and practice-informed reflection on the value of failure in art

journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by Shelley HanniganShelley Hannigan
Artistic creative processes include taking risks, making productive mistakes and moving through moments of failure. Positioned as artist, researcher and teacher (A/R/Tographer) the author researches her own practices and those of other teachers, students and artists to explore tensions and incompatibilities of different systems they work within. While artists might navigate what success might mean in the cultural domain or artworld they operate in, art educators face challenging tasks to provide space, time and conditions for students to engage such processes. Art students navigate assessment procedures and values from artworld or other industries they are training for to try to succeed while also demonstrating experimental and experiential engagement. Analysis of literature, reflective practice, collaborative self-study, interviews and practice observations, revealed a range of ways in which value systems that govern education and artworlds can set people up to fail. However, failure experiences can be beneficial in educational contexts when systems are made explicit as this allows teachers, artists and students to more clearly navigate values of success and failure within each system. Multiple and incompatible systems are discussed and some creative outputs or solutions that respond to some of these systems. These examples demonstrate to those working in the arts and in education, how pedagogies of failure are possible as they potentially push back against standards-based assessment system, time and space issues, that otherwise hinder creativity.



Thinking skills and creativity






Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Elsevier Ltd.