Renee Sandell, Artist & Educator

Renee Sandell grew up in New York City where she attended the High School of Music and Art and the City College of New York.. Sandell holds a MA and PhD in Art Education from The Ohio State University.

Renee Sandell’s Visual Fitness 4 All®is the result of her over 45 years of art teaching experience in classrooms and museums and includes creating art and presenting at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. Renee is founding director of the expeditionary, museum-based SummerVision DC Program, which she designed and has delivered for the National Art Education Association (NAEA) since 2010. Previously Director/Professor of Art Education at George Mason University (2004-2014) and Professor of Art Education at Maryland Institute College of Art (1990-2003), in 1980, Sandell was a Fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts. Co-author of two books on gender issues, Sandell has published numerous articles, book chapters and art curricula.

Winner of the 2019 Lowenfeld Award, Sandell was recognized as 2015-2016 Distinguished Lecturer in Art Education at Miami University and 2013 NAEA National Art Educator, Renee has received numerous awards for her leadership and scholarship on her Form+Theme+Context (FTC)®  and her Marking & Mapping, an accessible form of visual meaning-making.  Sandell’s Visual Fitness 4 All® for Engaging Creativity and Insight® workshops are designed to nurture envisioning skills for individuals within professional development programs, organizations, health spas, businesses, and other venues.

Renee’s artistic installations of ink and water-media markings explore the human condition in time, space, and place.  Her recent work entitled Silk Meditations reveals positive energies contained in human virtues, reflecting sensory states of consciousness through spiritual expression. Immersed in universal gratitude, these works become meditative mindscapes of visual affirmations needed in our turbulent times.

Selected National Awards and Honors

2019 Lowenfeld Award, National Art Education Association

Friends and former students of Viktor Lowenfeld established this award in 1960 to honor an individual who over the years has made significant contributions to art education. The award is named in honor of Viktor Lowenfeld, who, as professor of art education at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), was credited with helping to “define and develop the field of art education in the United States.”  Watch the 2019 Lowenfeld Lecture

2015-16 John A. and Betty J. Michael Distinguished Lecturer in Art Education. Miami (Ohio) University’s the John A. and Betty J. Michael Autobiographical Lecture Series in Art Education by outstanding persons who have made meaningful and significant contributions to the field.

2013 NAEA National Art Educator of the Year Award. Selected by peers for exemplary contributions to the field of visual arts education.

2008 Invited Studies Lecture. Elected by the Studies in Art Education Editorial Board as a leading scholar in art education.

2001 Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association. Title awarded by the NAEA Board of Directors in recognition of exemplary service and distinguished contributions to the Association and the profession and for enduring dedication to the advancement of art education.

1999 June King McFee Award for bringing “distinction to the field of art education through an exceptional and continuous record of achievement in scholarly writing, research, professional leadership, or community service bearing on education in the visual arts,”


Media Links:


“Renee Sandell & Visual Fitness” 2018 Podcast 

“Renee Sandell has found a life in art. An accomplished artist herself, she is passionate about art’s central power in life and in living. She brings that passion to a focus on art education. We can all understand art’s form, theme and context and bring that understanding into everything we do, developing our capacity for living. You’ll hear her passion as we have a conversation about visual fitness.” Listen here.


School Talk Video on Art Education (2011)

Dr. Renee Sandell, professor at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) discusses current teaching methods and the value of art education. School Talk #507: Art Education. Watch here.

Journey of An Artful Problem

In this 2014 video, Renee Sandell shares the evolution of her teaching a studio art problem inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and modified by changing the form, theme and context (FTC) of the assignment. Watch here.

Renee Sandell, PhD  Autobiographical Lecture

2015-16 endowed lecture for the John Michael Autobiographical Lecture Series in Art Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Watch here. 

Sermon: Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner’s September 30, 2018  sermon “Art with New Eyes” in response to her SummerVision DC 2018 learning experience. Listen below.


About FTC® & Marking Mapping

“Visualizing the Creative Process: Using the FTC Palette to Rebalance Transformative Studio Practice,” Chapter in Creativity and Art Education: Foundations, Pedagogies, and Contemporary Issues, Flavia Bastos and Enid Zimmerman (Eds.) Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2015

What Excellent Visual Arts Teaching Looks Like: Balanced, Interdisciplinary, and Meaningful,” Invited author and editor for NAEA Advocacy White Papers: Learning in a Visual Age. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2012. Download pdf here.

“Seeing A Bigger Picture: The Visual Arts,” Principal Leadership issue on “Seeing the Future,” 11(7), March 2011. Download pdf here.

“Using Form+Theme+Context (FTC) for Rebalancing 21st-Century Art Education,” Studies in Art Education, 50 (3), Spring 2009 Download pdf here.

“Form + Theme + Context: Balancing Considerations for Meaningful Art Learning,” Art Education, 53 (1), January 2006 Download pdf here.

“Using Feminist Advocacy, Collaboration, and Arts-Based Practices to Heal Ourselves and Others” with Enid Zimmerman in Visual Culture and Gender, Vol. 14 (2019)

About SummerVision:

“SummerVision DC: An Intensive Museum Experience Transforms into An Evolving Professional Learning Community (PLC),” with Carole Henry In Professional Development in Art Museums, Dana Kletchka & B. Stephen Carpenter II (Eds.) Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2018. Download PDF here. 

“Evaluating a Museum-Based Professional Learning Community as a Model for Art Education Leadership Development,” with Enid Zimmerman, Studies in Art Education, LVIII , 4, 2017. Download PDF here.

“SummerVision DC: An Evolving Professional Learning Community (PLC) explores art museums and nurtures the nurturer,” Chapter with Carole Henry in J. Daichendt, A. Kantawala & J. Haywood Rolling (Eds.), Visual Inquiry: Learning and Teaching Art, 3 (3), 363-278. Bristol, H UK: Intellect, 2014.

In Press:

“Feminist Leadership: Revelations Through Data Visualization Mapping” with Enid Zimmerman in NAEA Women’s Caucus Lobby Activism.  Edited by Karen Keifer-Boyd, Linda Hoeptner-Poling, Sheri Klein, Wanda Knight, and Adetty Pérez de Miles.   


Advocacy Bookmarks Created for NAEA: “Art Teachers Nurture 6 Senses…”  and “A Visual Arts Educator is…”


Selected Clients:

  • Smithsonian Associates Art Studio
  • Smith Center for Healing and the Arts
  • National Art Education Association (NAEA)
  • Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • McLean Project for the Arts
  • Simon Says Yoga

Selected Organizations:

  • Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute
  • National Center for Creative Aging
  • ArtTable, Inc.
  • Prince George’s County Artomatic
  • Emerging Art Leaders DC
  • Arlington County Public Schools
  • Wednesday Morning Group,

Selected Universities:

  • Teacher’s College Columbia University, New York
  • Boston University Art Education Online Program
  • MassArt, Boston, MA
  • Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
  • Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • College of New Jersey.

I loved, loved, loved this class—the warm up exercises, the positive energy Renee exudes that infects all of us. The clear lessons and the transformation of that learning into my piece of art.

By looking at art in a deeper more meaningful way, I dug deeper within myself. Not only did my eyes open, my heart and soul too, awakened. That may not have been on the itinerary but, it was the most meaningful discovery.

Loved this class—Renee is both inspirational and encouraging while at the same time gives you tools for “letting your artistic inhibitions go”—and for allowing for creativity. Her work …informs looking at and appreciating art is unique…and exciting.  There is a definite technique, approach to viewing and doing…and she presents hers in an enjoyable, stress-free experience.

“Form+Theme+Context®”,“FTC®”,“A Balanced Way of Seeing®”,“Marking & Mapping®”,” Visual Fitness 4 All®” and “Engaging Creativity & Insight®” are registered trademarks of Renee Sandell for ForThCo Vision LLC.

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