Dr. Elizabeth J. Vallance

Associate Professor Emeritus, Art Education, School of Education; Department of C&I
Indiana University - Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
United States

Focus Areas

Arts & Humanities


After a 25-year career swerve made possible by KNFP, I retired from Indiana University at the end of 2012. At Kansas State University doing continuing-education administration when KNFP happened, I used the time to study art history and museums and to explore “the hidden arts curriculum of small towns”. Through a KNFP-funded membership, I found my unlikely dream job, education director at The Saint Louis Art Museum, which I loved for 15 years. Then, finally believing I knew enough to teach, I moved into university teaching – art education at Northern Illinois University, where I created and ran a graduate certificate program in Museum Studies and got tenure at age 59. A child of the suburbs craving a real town, I loved the underdog real town of DeKalb but knew I wouldn’t stay there forever (a little too underdog), so I let myself be recruited to Indiana University in 2006. My main humble accomplishment here has been an undergrad gen-ed course, “Artifacts, Museums, and Everyday Life”, looking at objects’ meanings throughout their lives at Target, downtown shopwindows, antique malls, various museums, and Goodwill, totally fun to teach and it now fills several sections with students from many disciplines; I handed it off to trustworthy doctoral students when I retired. Despite no pressure to publish (nor rewards for doing so) in my pre-academic jobs, I always wrote and my career produced the usual array of dozens of articles -- best title was “The Public Curriculum of Orderly Images” from my VP address for the American Educational Research Association – plus a batch of book chapters, a long list of conference presentations (the most recent ones explored visual-culture imagery and its art/museum education potential, things like shopwindow designs, decorated mailboxes, picture postcards, manhole covers...), and cool committees (the IU Cinema Advisory Board, for example). I may have a last article or two in me, perhaps on my first and only sabbatical project – analyzing a social psychologist’s travel photos through aesthetic-education lenses -- having presented it at conferences and at a local retirement center. But lately, in retirement, I’ve been applying longstanding enthusiasms to working with hospice (and developing a hospice photography option), giving tours at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center (200+ lions and tigers etc. near Terre Haute), doing small-cat care and adoption counseling at the local animal shelter, editing and photography for various not-for-profits, and training new docents for area museums. I married my companion of 30 years on my 60th birthday and, with Jack retired, we finally combined households and ended an epic 22-year weekend commute. I’ve developed an “alternate resume” that portrays my life without mentioning a single publication or job title, and it includes the fact that I recently got my Life List of Michigan lakes kayaked to 75. I’m committed to NPR, the ACLU, Democrats (and farther left), The Elephant Sanctuary as well as the EFRC, and a range of progressive causes. Jack and I and our cats are staying in Bloomington -- one of those Great College Towns – and in a funky summer place in Michigan. (PS: Degrees: AB Psychology/Michigan 1968, and PhD Curriculum Studies/Stanford 1975).