Phone: 61 2 9340 7572
Research project description
My study is a child-informed, multiple case study of the aesthetic experiences of six, three-and-four year-olds at one art exhibition, Contemporary Art for Contemporary Kids, which was held at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in 2010.
My research methods sought to bring out the voices and visions of the children in order to capture how the children articulated their experiences. This approach is in line with a view of children as cultural citizens, which is one of my theoretical viewpoints.
In practice, the children were invited to photograph the exhibition and then compose photo-essays of their experiences – these photo-essays are a central feature of their case study reports. My study also looked at how the children engaged with the artworks and the exhibition setting over a number of visits, which allowed them to build expertise and make choices about which artworks they would interact with and how that interaction would unfold. Through visual and written observations and follow up interviews and art-making sessions the children and I were able to construct rich reports of their experiences.
During the extensive gallery sessions (some lasting up to 1.5hrs, at the discretion of the child), and in the interviews, the children talked about the aesthetic dimensions of the works and ably commented on the exhibition and their role as art appreciators and art makers. Overall the study was marked by the dedication, enthusiasm and immersion of the children with their chosen works of art. As Elly (4.5 yrs) commented: “I’m doing lovely, important work.”
After gradutating with Arts (Hons) and Law degrees from the ANU I took a turn in consulting, but in 2008 I returned to my first loves – “art and babies” as a good friend put it - with this PhD. Since then I have been focussed on my studies and my children, Raf (10) and Kiki (5). I have also been teaching the Creative Arts in Early Childhood course in the Faculty’s Early Childhood programme for the last two years, and in 2012 the Ethics and Social Justice in Early Childhood course.
From 2009 – 2011, I was one of two student representative on the Division of Doctoral Studies Committee.
In 2011 I received a Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.
- Mai, L. (2011). Child informed inquiry: research with and by young children in an art museum setting. InSEA World Congress, Budapest, 25-30 June 2011.
- Mai, L. (2011). The creative arts. In Building quality practice: Implementing the Early Years Learning Framework and quality assurance requirements. Sydney, Australia, 2 April 2011.
Faculty of Education & Social Work - Excellence in Teaching Award 2011
|Art museum experiences in the early years.||PhD||Dr Robyn Gibson|
- Mai, L., & Gibson, R. . (2011). The rights of the putti: A review of the literature on children as cultural citizens in art museums. Museum Management and Curatorship, 26(4).
- Mai, L., & Gibson, R. (2009). The young child and the masterpiece: A review of the literature on aesthetic experiences in early childhood. International Journal of the Arts in Society , 4(3), 357–368.
- Mai. L. (2011). Child-informed inquiry: Research with and by young children in an art museum setting. In Karpati, A. & Gaul, E. (Eds) Proceedings of the 33rd InSEA World Congress. Budapest, Hungary, 25-30 June 2011.