The Student Art Exhibit: A Collaborative Journey


  • Maryann McCabe MA in Art Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania; PhD in Musicology from New York University; high school art/music teacher with the Department of Education, New York City; independent scholar


student art exhibits, museum education, engagement, collabortive pedagogy, authentic artmaking, Brooklyn Museum


This study explores what happened when secondary students created an art exhibit within a flexible framework provided by the teacher. Burton (2006, 2004, 2001) identified student exhibits as opportunities for heightened and comprehensive student engagement and learning in art. Lackey (2008) acknowledged that student exhibits enhanced communication between students and adults. The findings in this article, with specifications, supported these conclusions. From visiting a model exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, to planning, creating, and exhibiting artwork, four themes emerged: 1. teacher as collaborator, 2. students as problem solvers, 3. museum exhibits as creative catalysts, and 4. student-led exhibitions as opportunities for school-wide collaboration.

Author Biography

Maryann McCabe, MA in Art Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania; PhD in Musicology from New York University; high school art/music teacher with the Department of Education, New York City; independent scholar

Maryann McCabe’s academic preparation includes the following: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, MA in Art Education; New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD in musicology; University of Toronto, MA in voice and historical musicology; Barnard College, Columbia University, BA in music, and German language and literature. A native of the Boston area, Maryann is a musician, artist, and independent music scholar. She has taught various subjects within music, critical thinking, and English and writing at a number of community colleges, colleges, and universities in New York City and New Jersey, and has published in the field of music. Currently, she teaches art and music at a Brooklyn, New York, public high school.



Berg, B., & Lune, J. (2012). Qualitative Research Methods for the Social

Sciences. Pearson Education, Inc.: Boston.

Bowen, G. (2009). Document analysis as a qualitative research

method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), 27-40.

Bowman, R. (2007). How can students be motivated: A misplaced question? The Clearing House, 81(2), 81-86.

Burton, D. (2006). Exhibiting Student Art The Essential Guide for Teachers. New York and London: Teachers College Press.

Burton, D. (2004). Exhibiting student art. Art Education, 57(6), 41-46.

Burton, D. (2001). Social dynamics in exhibiting art: Rethinking the practices of art education. Art Education, 54(1), 41-46.

Burton, J. (2000). The configuration of meaning: Learner-centered art education revisited. Studies in Art Education, 41(4), 330-345.

Choi, W. (1998). How students transform a “stuffy building with a bunch of rules.” Art Education, 51(2), 46-51.

Cotner, T. (2001). Why study classroom talk? Art Education, 51(1), 12-17.

Cummings, K. (2010, Summer). “So what.” “Who cares?” “Whatever”: Changing adolescents’ attitudes in the art classroom. Visual Arts Research, 36(1), 55-67.

Drake, L. (2013). Exhibiting Culture: Innovative Display Techniques in the Brooklyn Museum’s Connecting Cultures Exhibition. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Columbia University, New York.

Hafen, A., Allen, J., Mikami, A., Gregory, A., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2012). The pivotal role of adolescent autonomy in secondary school classrooms. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 41, 245-255.

Hathaway, N. (2013). Smoke and mirrors: Art teacher as magician. Art Education, 66(3), 9-15.

Hicks, L. (2013). Art education: Thing or device? Studies in Art Education, 54(2), 99- 102.

Lackey, L. (2008). What is exhibition for? Considering the purposes of art display in a Saturday art school context. Art Education, 61(4), 33-39.

Maheshwari, M. (2006). ‘Teen Talks’ at the photographers’ gallery.

Engage: The International Journal of Visual Arts and Gallery Research. 20, 52-56.

McCall, K. (2006). Young people as Interpreters: Manchester art gallery’s creative consultants. Engage: The International Journal of Visual Arts and Gallery Education Research, 20, 52-56.

Pitri, E. (2013). Skills and dispositions for creative problem solving during the art making process. Art Education, 66(3), 41-45.

Roberts, T. (2005). Teaching real art making. Art Education, 58(2), 40-45.

Roberts, T. (2008). What’s going on in room 13? Art Education, 61(5), 19-24.

Saldaña, J. (201). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. 2nd ed. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Stokrocki, M. (1997). Qualitative forms of research methods. In S. D. LaPierre & E. Zimmerman (Eds.), Research Methods and Methodologies for Art Education (pp. 33-56). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. 2nd ed. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA.

Walker, M. (2010). Concept-based inquiry into art making: The possibility of change through art. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. (3400658).

Witmer, S., & Borst, J. (1999). Making connections: Getting teens to talk about art. Art Education, 52(5), 33-38.

Zander, M. (2004). Becoming Dialogical: Creating a place for dialogue in art education. Art Education, 57(3), 48-53.