This article begins with the premise that self-imagery is constituted as a shape-shifting aggregate of symbolic systems that incorporates the human body itself as one of its representations. At intermittent points of the body's embodiment of visual culture and tacit social experience, alternative representations accrete into varying symbolic systems, the multiple shapes a self-image may take over a lifetime. Given that social identity is derived from the interaction of various symbolic systems, how do some bodies and self-images come to be taken as that of identities incompatible with most others? In this exploration of the self-image and identity, the author reconsiders the purposes of art education in human development, especially when the self-image is given primacy over the objects we typically plan to make in the classroom.


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