Teacher as conceptual artist. Identifying the overlap between the teacher/artist identities

Publication Type:



Jorge Lucero


Amsterdam University of the Arts, Amsterdam (2018)


Teachers in arts education frequently struggle with their professional identity. Am I an artist? A performer? A Teacher? When probed about the reasons for this confusion, arts teachers often answer that they believe that their main responsibility is education at the expense of understanding and promoting themselves as artists. Yet, a teacher’s artistic practice contributes to the quality of teaching the arts, as teachers stay connected to developments in the arts and keep their artistic knowledge and skills up to date.

In the discussion about teacher/artist identities, the Mexican-American artist and scholar Jorge Lucero argues that the perceived gap between teacher/artist identities could be closed through an understanding of how these identities overlap and integrate into each other. Building on developments in conceptual and social art, Lucero coined the idea of the teacher as conceptual artist. He proposes that a teacher’s practice—in and out of the classroom—can simultaneously be their creative practice. According to Lucero, redefining the school—with its proceedings, relationships, and obligations—as ‘artistic material’, opens up possibilities to engage in a practice in which educational and artistic goals are simultaneously pursued.

This publication is part of the research project Teacher as conceptual artist, initiated by the Research Group Arts Education of the Amsterdam University of the Arts. During four months, a group of arts education students explored the similarities between teaching and artistic practice. In this period, Jorge Lucero operated as artist in residence, coach and curator. The participating students were familiarized with Lucero’s ideas through lectures, discussions and workshops. On that basis, they developed lessons, which they implemented in different schools (primary and secondary education). The students were also encouraged to pay particular attention to all the things they do as educators—especially the ‘non-art’ activities—as art. The results of the project were shared at a symposium and an exhibition at art center Framer Framed in Amsterdam.