In this article I begin to unravel some of the complexities of being a visual art educator who teaches in a public elementary school: while dealing with an increasing high-stakes testing environment, I write in defense of teaching that is based on social justice and visual culture theory. I take the theme of this issue, de(fence), literally as a need to defend. To do this I use visual autoethnography, where I create a collaged work of art, then use that collage as a prompt for my reflection on my curriculum and teaching practice. My reflection is woven into the wider culture of art education, and distinctions between the cultural and the personal become blurred as I change focus from looking backwards and forwards, inwards and outwards. In creating this visual autoethnography, I hope that other art educators are inspired to find their own voices and provide their own additions to the creation of a rich, thick description of the professional lives of art educators as they increasingly have to defend even the basic need for art education in public schools.


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