The function of art students' use of studio conversations in relation to their artwork
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AbstractThe article focuses on individual students’ studies within a practicebased MFA program in visual art in Sweden. The individual cases of studying that form the basis for this investigation, represent a particularly autonomous and self-directed kind of studying. Although the kind of autonomy and selfdirection varies between visual art programs, as well as its extent, these are largely qualities that characterize higher education in visual art practice in general. The focus is here on two aspects or dimensions of the development of the studies in visual art: the students’ relations to their artwork, and their relationship to use of studio conversations. The analysis presented is based on two interviews with nine art students during their first and fourth years of study. The starting point for the analysis is the assumption that there is an internal relation between a student’s approach to his/her artwork and his/her use of studio conversations about the work. The precise relation is, of course, unique for each student. However, based on a focus on different functions studio conversations assume in relation to the students’ artwork, five types of relations were discerned. The main difference between the types of relations concerned the expected function of studio conversations in relation to the development of the students’ artwork. The results clearly indicate that there is a more specific relation between the two aspects in each case. Thus, we find a rather close relation between the two aspects, while the exact nature of the relationship varies from case to case. Even if studio conversations are just one part of the education, it is the component that is generally considered most important by the majority of students, and also the part that typically illustrates the character of the education. The results have implications for the understanding of the self-directed character of the studies, and the very free form of curriculum typical of visual art practice-based education.