Introduced to art as early as elementary school, Pamela Harris Lawton, EdD, quickly realized that she had a knack for it through working alongside her art teacher on projects. She had a great high school art teacher that included her in art programs and instilled in her a great interest in the field. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and sociology in 1981. Soon thereafter, she received a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from Howard University in 1991. Dr. Lawton concluded her academic efforts with an EdD in the college teaching of art from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2004.
Between 2008 and 2015, Dr. Lawton served the role of an associate professor of art education, as well as the director of education studies, at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C. Consequently, she became a professor of art education at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020. In fall 2020, she was hired by the Maryland Institute College of Art, as the Florence Gaskins Harper endowed chair in art education. Outside of her endeavors in academia, Dr. Lawton has flourished as an artist. Her artwork is grounded in social practice, seeking to illuminate contemporary issues, cultural traditions and the stories of people affected by them. The pieces she creates, mostly prints and mixed media pieces, are visual narratives of the people, places, and traditions that influence her life. She combines images and words into her work to tell a story. A story that many who have viewed her work find both inspirational and familiar, for it tells the story of everyday life that many people understand and have experienced.
As an educator, Dr. Lawton prides herself on working collaboratively with students, colleagues, and communities. She does this by creating works addressing the needs and ideas of diverse groups of participants, and connecting them through a common art experience. As a researcher, she examines teaching and learning theories as practiced through art activity with participants, with varying degrees of artistic experience and skill. Additionally, Dr. Lawton conducts participatory action research with participants, collecting data through narrative co-inquiry, observation, interviews, questionnaires, the art making process, and resulting product. Other achievements to her credits include publishing these experiences to share with participants and other artist-educator-researchers to push boundaries and extend the field of art education research.
Dr. Lawton attributes her success to the programs she went to, the professors that inspired her in the field and her family’s support. She was also motivated to go to higher ranks in the art field, being a person of color and wanting to teach other people of color. In the coming years, Dr. Lawton hopes to be retired and working more as an artist. She has always been able to balance her scholarly work with artistic work and hopes her students see her as an example