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This paper traces perspectives on the core purpose of art from fields ranging from biology and anthropology to education and literary theory, noting how they converge on notions of art as an evolutionary form of social bonding, and open-ended life inquiry for personal and social transformation. Drawing from these theories, it discusses how these transactional perspectives on art reinforce the value of exposing students to both creative and interpretative forms of aesthetic inquiry.
Further it proposes that the figure of the amateur artist—as opposed to that of the professional artist or renowned academic—can serve as an embodiment of the core purpose of art and our educational goals in the art classroom, encouraging students from diverse career paths to actively seek out meaningful and transformative art-making and appreciating experiences.
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