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David Burton- Art Education Alumni Award Winner

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David BurtonFor David Burton (’73 Ph.D. Art Education), art education is, simply, all about art.

“Art contributes so much to personal growth and character, to the fabric of society and culture…it is vitally important that every child grow up in a climate and community of art,” he said. “In this respect, my students who have gone on to become art teachers are my best contribution to the world in which we live. They shape the world everyday by teaching art.”

A professor of art education at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirty-nine years, Burton came to Penn State after finishing his master’s work at New York University. “Coming to Penn State was the great catalyst,” he shared. “The faculty and my peers inspired and challenged me. They showed me a world that I never perceived and made it real and possible for me.”

Burton credits faculty mentor Bill Stewart’s perseverance and patience with getting him through his doctoral work, and noted John Withall in the College of Education was a major influence on his teaching.

Burton is a Distinguished Fellow of both the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Virginia Art Education Association, and he has received major awards from the NAEA, including Higher Education Art Educator of the Year in 2001. In 2006, he published Exhibiting Student Art, a book that filled a void in art education literature by encouraging teachers to help students develop ideas and skills associated with curating and presenting their own work to a large audience.

His advice for future art educators? “Get as much practical experience teaching kids as you possibly can. The ideas one studies in class only go so far. They become real and alive when you mix in real kids. Sign up to substitute teach. Engage in service learning in schools. Volunteer for youth programs. It’s all good!” 

Photo by Cody Goddard